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for tbe OLtbrars ot tbe 
THni\>er6it\> of Toronto 
out of tbe proceeds of tbe funt> 

bequeatbefc bp 
. Phillips Stewart, ^,a. t xx.. 

OB. A.D. 1892. 



GATHERED LEAVES 



GATHERED LEAVES 

FROM THE PROSE OF 

MARY E. COLERIDGE 

WITH A MEMOIR BY 
EDITH SICHEL 




' Light was your touch upon the shadowy earth ; 
You loved it well, yet knew it little worth ; 
Each mood you loved that changing nature brings, 
And yet, and yet you loved diviner things.' 

BERNARD HOLLAND. 



LONDON 
CONSTABLE AND COMPANY LTD 

10 ORANGE STREET LEICESTER SQUARE 

1910 







" 



Published . . April 1910 
Reprinted . . July 1910 



r 

600,5 

3fr(, 

/1/0 



TO 

MARY'S FRIENDS 
AND MINE 






PREFATORY NOTE 

I SHOULD like to acknowledge with gratitude the kindness 
of the Editors of the Comhill Magazine and the Times, 
and that of Sir Herbert Stephen, in allowing me to 
reprint contributions (stories, essays, and passages from 
articles) from the Cornhill, the Literary Supplement of 
the Times, and from the Reflector, which is now out of 
print. In the case of other extinct periodicals I have 
done my best to get permission to reproduce contribu- 
tions, and, in the cases in which I got no response, I 
have taken for granted that I can give no offence by 
republication. It has seemed best to arrange the 
contents of the volume in chronological order, for the 
sake of those who like to follow the growth of the 
author's mind and character. 

EDITH SICHEL. 

Feb. 7th, 1910. 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

MARY COLERIDGE 1 

STORIES 

UNTEB DEN LINDEN ....... 47 

THE KING IS DEAD, LONG LIVE THE KING ... 53 

THE DEVIL AT THE GUILDHALL ..... 63 

THE FRIENDLY FOE . ..... 79 

THE LADY ON THE HILLSIDE 104 

THE SNOW IS COMING ....... 120 

THE CITY OF BYBLOS 125 

THE CONSCIENTIOUS SECRETARY ..... 140 

CATS IN COUNCIL ........ 142 

ESSAYS 

HER GRACE, THE DUCHESS 147 

ON NOISES ......... 168 

MORB WORLDS THAN ONE . . . . . .173 

THE MAKING OF HEROINES 177 

TRAVELLERS' TALES 181 

MRS. GASKELL ........ 186 

QUEEN ELIZABETH . . . . . . .194 

THE WILL TO DIE . . . . . . .211 



x CONTENTS 

PAGE 

COLLECTION OF PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND 

DIARIES 217 



UNPUBLISHED POEMS 

LINES 281 

GRIEF AND DEATH ....... 281 

TO ONE WHO WAS NURSING A BLIND FATHER . . 282 

TO 282 

TO AN OLD FRIEND ....... 283 

TO TIME THE COMFORTER 283 

APPENDIX- 
NOTES OF THE TABLE TALK OF WILLIAM CORY . . 287 
POEM : MARY COLERIDGE ...... 337 



MARY COLERIDGE 

FOR most people there is a beginning and an end. It is 
important to recall that they were born, and that they 
died at such and such a date. But to say of Mary 
Coleridge that she was born in September 1861, that she 
lived nearly forty-six years, and died in August 1907, 
means little. She was never of any age, and excepting 
that as life went on she grew and ripened, she was 
much the same at twenty as at forty. She seemed 
to belong to eternity rather than to time, and the 
years had hardly power to touch her. Her nature was 
woven of many complex threads, seeming to cross each 
other, yet forming a fine, close tissue. She was all 
poet, and three-quarters saint; she was holy, without 
the faintest tinge of puritanism ; she was merry, 
without injury to her holiness. The background 
of her spirit was pensive, rather shrinking, often sad ; 
but she delighted in gaiety and generally made a 
gay impression, because she possessed the rare gift of 
being in love with the moment, and was easily amused 
by things and people. Fantastic she was to excess, and 
there were hours when she let her fancies, light as thistle- 



2 MARY COLERIDGE 

down, take her anywhere so long as she need not tread 
on solid earth. And yet she could be shrewd and sober 
of judgment in a way that surprised even her intimates. 

It might be thought that such opposite elements 
would have given either a broken, or a bewildering im- 
pression. But that was not so. The impression left by 
Mary Coleridge was one of unity. All her various, 
sometimes paradoxical qualities were covered, linked 
together, by her unique force of loving. It lent colour 
to all her faculties ; it caught colour from them. Her 
fancy was a loving fancy ; her loves were often fantastic. 
Rich and poor, the stupid and the intellectual, children 
and old people, all sorts and conditions, had they been 
asked what she was like, would have differed on many 
points, but in this they would have been agreed that 
the chief feeling conveyed by her presence was the sense 
of this power of love. It was essentially love for the 
individual. Any classing or massing she rejected ; it 
almost irritated her. She disliked philanthropy, she said 
she disliked the poor, and yet there were many poor 
women who counted among her closest friends. In the 
same way, respect of persons offended her; she took 
every one solely upon his merits. Intellectual scorn was 
in her eyes among the cardinal sins, and she was more 
prone to invest a dull acquaintance with romance than to 
seek one out because he was brilliant. 

As she was always the same from childhood onwards, 
it has seemed needful for the sake of those who did not 
know her to preface any pages concerning her with 
some attempt, however inadequate, to catch a fleeting 



MARY COLERIDGE 3 

likeness of her inner nature. For her life, from the out- 
set, was the life of the spirit, her adventures (they were 
many and romantic), the adventures of the soul. As a 
child she was delicate and shrinking, the prey of an 
almost painful sensitiveness. It was only her love for 
those nearest to her her father, her mother, her one 
sister, and an unmarried aunt who lived with them that 
could dominate her diffidence. Perhaps this timidity 
drove her the more quickly into that world which was 
really her home, the world of the imagination. There 
she was always bold, even daring, and no one knew that 
the fair-haired, rather pale-faced little girl who could 
hardly come into a room without suffering was far away 
with Harry Hotspur, or dreaming of Sir Gawain and Sir 
Lancelot, or sailing with Drake to El Dorado. 

These first years of life are seldom happy ones to a 
highly-strung child. For they are the time when reason 
and imagination unprotected imagination run parallel 
and never meet. Reason was not Mary Coleridge's 
strong point, and imagination was, so she suffered. In 
after times she never, she said, 'lived over again' her 
childhood. * I was, 1 she wrote, * such a numb, unliving 
child, that all that period of my life is vague and 
twilight, and I can recall scarcely anything except the 
sharp sensations of fear that broke the dull dream of my 
days. So soon as I began to awake to life, my childhood 
fell away from me. 1 Books were from the first her con- 
solation. Long before she was in her teens she began to 
read Shakespeare, to read and- feel him with a poet's 
instinct. Her life was changed from that moment. She 



4 MARY COLERIDGE 

learned to know men and women through him years 
before she knew them through life. Scott, too, enchanted 
the days of her early girlhood. She was one of the lead- 
ing spirits among a circle of eager children, who met to- 
gether every Saturday to act the Waverley novels. Those 
who saw her will never forget her in the part of Ivanhoe, 
tall, pale, lanky, reed-like, her fair hair tucked beneath her 
helmet, a dish-cover for shield in her hand, swaying as 
she charged the Templar, who, robed in a nightgown 
adorned with a red tape cross, parried her blows with the 
rest of the dining-room plate. When she acted she lost 
her shyness, though she did not act particularly well. 
But one of the puzzling inconsistencies of this frail, 
secluded being was that she was always dramatic in con- 
ception, and, from the beginning, loved strong effects in 
literature and in life sometimes, in her ardour for 
romance, even mistaking sensation for drama. She could , 
however, only act a hero when disguised. And when she 
was herself again, she returned to the region familiar 
to her, a pensive place of silvery tints and half-lights and 
delicate shadows, rather melancholy, but melancholy 
from presentiment more than from experience. A little 
poem that she made when she was thirteen years old 
might almost have been written in an odd moment at 
any time of her existence. It is called 

A BALLADE OF AUTUMN 

Life is passing slowly, 

Death is drawing near, 
Life and Death are holy, 

What have we to fear ? 



MARY COLERIDGE 5 

Faded leaves are falling, 

Birds are on the wing, 
All that dies in Autumn 

Lives again in Spring. 

The quiet and distinction of her gift are as visible here 
as in her maturer work. There are no striking images, 
no youthful crudities. Restraint and discretion were her 
heritage. 

What was perhaps more remarkable than her imagina- 
tion for many children are imaginative was her quickly 
developed power of scholarship. When she was about 
twelve, the shape of the Hebrew letters attracted her, 
and she begged her father to teach her the language. 
By the time she was nineteen she was well versed in it, 
as well as in German, French, Italian ; and a little later 
she became a keen reader of Greek. She was not one of 
those literary scholars who make only for a general 
impression, for colour more than for form. She was the 
most careful of students, allowing no detail to be 
neglected, accurate and reverentially cautious, with a 
real love for the niceties of learning. 

In this path a great influence was soon brought to bear 
upon her. When she was thirteen, she came into contact 
with her father's friend, William Johnson, better known 
as William Cory, the author of lonica, a poet and scholar 
of no common order. The Coleridges were spending the 
summer with him at Halsdon, near Torrington, in 
Devonshire ; William Cory easily detected the rare 
gifts in his friend's little daughter, and as easily 
knew how to draw them out. Mary's shyness melted 



6 MARY COLERIDGE 

before him, and there were morning assignations in the 
garden, before breakfast, while the birds and flowers were 
their sole company. To the end she loved cyclamen and 
irises, because they were favourites of his. Soon he 
became her guide in reading, in the marshalling of know- 
ledge, and thus it was that she formed the friendship 
which perhaps most coloured her intellectual life the 
friendship of which she has left the record now printed 
among these pages. He had awakened in her a longing 
to know, which spread itself out in all directions. 

She began studying for herself, she steeped herself in 
poetry, in history. She was always an ardent partisan. 
A contemporary of those years remembers an expedition 
with her and some other girls to Westminster Abbey to 
see the waxen figures of the kings and queens there. 
Historical discussion waxed hot. Mary Coleridge was 
full of Charles i. Impartiality was a crime in her eyes, 
and there was no more loyal hater of Cromwell than she 
was. She asked her comrade on which side she stood. 
'Neither/ replied the stolid philosopher of fifteen <I 
think there was a bit of truth on both sides." 'And 
it made me dislike you for months,'* Mary Coleridge said 
thirty years afterwards. 

The same combatants had another pitched battle over 
Shelley. At seventeen, Mary could not endure him at 
twenty-seven, she adored him. In these earlier days 
her friend was his votary and talked of nothing but 
Prometheus Unbound-, but Mary\s tender conscience 
was offended by his lawlessness, her taste bewildered by 
his dizzy raptures. Ten years later, the two had changed 



MARY COLERIDGE 7 

parts ; the friend indicted him for selfish idealism Mary 
defended him on the plea of his goodness to his kind. 

In those younger years, she not only felt, she began 
to think. There are three little summaries of different 
philosophies written by her at sixteen, which show a 
grasp of mind not common so early in life. Two of 
them handle Berkeley and Locke ; the third, concerning 
Descartes, is worth giving. 

'CARTESIAN CREDO 

' I believe that it is possible to doubt of everything ; 
because the evidence of our senses often deceives us (as 
in sleep, sickness, etc.), but this doubt of my own is the 
only thing I find doubtless, therefore I conclude that I 
am a thinking being and that because I think I exist 
(to doubt being the same as to think). I believe in the 
immateriality of my soul, because I find that neither 
place nor any other idea of matter is essential to the 
thinking part of me ; and I believe in God, firstly, because 
I find in this thinking part of me a very strong and 
perfect conception of my Creator ; and secondly, because 
it is impossible that something should be produced out 
of nothing, and I have already found that I am a 
thinking being, therefore that I am something. I 
believe also that God is good, because I find in myself 
inclinations to goodness, and happiness in it, which no 
evil could have produced, and I believe material things 
are really so, because if God is good it is at least 
highly improbable that He would continually deceive 
me, even for my good. I also conclude that it is wrong 



8 MARY COLERIDGE 

to attempt to define things which can be far more clearly 
conceived ; to these belong doubt, thought, and existence. 
'May 6th, 1878.' 

It was no wonder that all her teachers adored her, 
and, long after school-days, remembered the essays that 
she wrote for them. Among those she cared most for 
was Professor Hales, who lectured on English Literature 
at King's College for Women. He it was who first set 
her feet in the fields of Elizabethan drama, and sent her 
to pasture on the brown folios in the libraries of the 
South Kensington Museum. To him she owed many 
golden hours, absorbed in Ford and Webster and 
Massinger. By herself now, also, she plunged into 
Homer and Euripides. But here she was not long left 
alone. When she was three and twenty, her old friend, 
William Cory, became her master. With him, and with 
some chosen companions, she read Plato and Theocritus, 
read, and learned with Greek many other things which 
she herself has chronicled, such things as left an indelible 
impression on her mind. 

* I should have been well content to read all my life 
long,' she wrote of this time in a later diary 'With 
such an appetite did I set out that all books resolved 
themselves for me into one huge volume, and although 
blindly conscious even then that I should never live to 
finish it, I was wild to begin it, not as wise people do, 
here and there, but everywhere that every one had begun 
it before me. The fruits of the tree of Knowledge are 
various; he must be strong indeed who can digest all 



MARY COLERIDGE 9 

of them. I was vainly endeavouring to get my teeth 
through the sour apple of science, to crack the hard nuts 
of philosophy, when all that I was really fit for was to 
gather up the stray blossoms that fell in spring.' . . . 

But the sour apple had its uses. The desire for know- 
ledge gradually built up a solid screen between her and 
her fears. The distresses of childhood had passed away, 
and youth had begun. Between fifteen and twenty-five 
she enjoyed many things, although her dread of society 
continued. 

'You would study life to some purpose among all 
these folks,' she wrote from Homburg in these early 
days to a friend ; ' but things interest me more than 
people . . . and as I no more understand life than I 
understand arithmetic (indeed it often seems to me 
very much like twice one is two, which no one has ever 
yet made clear to me) I run away from it to the old 
deserted Schloss, with its carved yew-trees and stiff- 
backed dahlias and sunflowers, and background of soft 
blue hills and firs and chestnuts. To-night there was 
a glorious sunset there, and it reminded me of what 
you said about Nature's gradual changes. Quite true 
except as to the moon, and goodness gracious, can't she 
startle one every now and then, and gleam at one out 
of boughs in a white passion of rage, just when one 
least expects it ! I don't feel sure of the sun, but there 
is not the faintest doubt that that moon was once a 
woman, she is the most human thing in creation. . . . 
Haven't you sometimes felt inclined to run away anywhere 
out of reach of those dreadful eyes, with all the 



10 MARY COLERIDGE 

expression frozen out of them ? Somebody treated her 
very badly, depend upon it." 

There is so much of Mary Coleridge's youth in this 
extract that it tells more about her than any description, 
and so do the passages that follow : 

'After all, what do I know of the world? Beyond 
the fact that I have lived in it twenty-six years nothing. 
I have not even learnt its alphabet. Thirteen years at 
least out of the twenty-six have I lived in books, and 
yet I understand them not much better. Dorothea's 
marriage with Ladislaw is as great a mystery to me as 
the existence of capital punishment. I have not 
imagination enough to understand fact, nor experience 
enough to comprehend fiction. Certain moments in my 
own life or that of others stand out clearly like mountain 
tops that have caught the sunrise, while the valley below 
is still in darkness.' 

'L. is here . . . but she wears such beautiful white 
frocks, and they fit her so exquisitely, that I feel rather 
afraid of her when we meet before the Cursaal, and read 
my Jowett's Plato (vol. i.) in a humble background, 
for fear she should find it out (which she did the very 
first night).' 

'It's rather funny that you and Ella and I should 
all be at "the Republic" at the same time; E. wrote 
ecstatically about it the other day, and she isn't much 
given to ecstasies by letter. Its extraordinary modern- 
ness strikes me, just as it does you. Even Homer and 



MARY COLERIDGE 11 

Shakespeare, who are equally " not of an age, but for 
all time" with Plato, seem to speak from a distance, 
but one can hardly persuade oneself that Socrates is 
not in the next room. And no one but Plato gives 
one in perfection that absolutely delightful sensation 
of laughing not from amusement, but from sheer happi- 
ness, just as a child laughs, because it's alive and the 
sun shines. I wonder if all laughing began so? I 
suppose it did. Primitive man didn't understand a 
joke, very likely. ' 

' When I am reading, Conscience comes and says, " You 
know you ought to be writing. What business have you 
to enjoy, when you have never worked ? What work but 
this can you do ? " When I am talking, ditto. When I am 
dreaming, just the same. The book I mean to write is 
sometimes big and sometimes little. The only remarkable 
thing about it is that it never will identify itself with 
the book I am actually writing at the moment.'' 

Somebody said of Mary Coleridge that she was ' like 
the tail of the comet S.T.C.' 'I have no fairy god- 
mother,' she once wrote, ' but lay claim to a fairy great- 
great-uncle, which is perhaps the reason that I am 
condemned to wander restlessly around the Gates of 
Fairyland, although I have never yet passed them.' 
All the same, she was well within the magic fence, 
and the likeness to her great-uncle is no imaginary one. 
It comes out, perhaps, most in a certain weird quality 
of her imagination in the love for the strange and the 
unearthly which haunted her from childhood onwards. 



12 MARY COLERIDGE 

' Have you ever read Ye legend of ye Mandrake ? I 
hit on it the other day, and it pleased me mightily. If 
you want to uproot a mandrake why you ever should 
want to uproot it does not appear you must go to the 
place where its grows, very early on a Friday morning, 
taking with you a black dog and having your ears care- 
fully stopped with cotton wool, so that you cannot hear 
its deathly shriek during the operation. Then you must 
dig all round it in a square ; then you must take a piece 
of string and fasten one end to the mandrake and the 
other end to the black dog's tail ; then you must run for 
your life, and the black dog will run after you, dragging 
the mandrake up along with it. It goes without saying 
that the black dog dies of the shrieks, but that doesn't 
matter/ 

Coleridge and Wordsworth might have talked en- 
thusiastically of the mandrake on some moonlight even- 
ing at Alfoxden more seriously than their follower, as a 
possible subject for a poem, and with Coleridge half 
believing all the time. His great-niece's love of wizardry 
remained ; it took shape in her poems years after : in 
* Master and Guest,' and in 'The Witch,' and 
' Wilderspin.' 

Nearly all her early stories are coloured by this taste, 
and these stories are many. They were written any- 
where and anyhow chiefly on the backs of old copy- 
books, for economy's sake. Imagination was plentiful in 
those days and pocket-money was scarce. But her real 
ambition at this date was not to be a writer, but a 
painter, and she worked pretty hard at drawing. Her 



MARY COLERIDGE 13 

delicate, accurate water-colour sketches remain to record 
her talent. Like all else, they are the expression of her- 
self, more real in this way than as works of art. But no 
one who saw pictures with her could doubt that an artist 
was looking, with an artistes power of enjoyment. All 
her life she had a passion for painting and for talking it 
over. Yet it was not her true medium ; literature was, 
and she found it out. 

She lived at the hour that suited her. ' Bliss was it in 
that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven.' 
Perhaps most people could say that of their youth, but 
for her it was peculiarly true. The late seventies and 
early eighties were a generous time for the young. 
Smart criticism and epigrammatic humour had not yet 
come into fashion ; hero-worship was the virtue in vogue, 
and there still were gods to worship. It was the day of 
the power of Browning and Tennyson, of Carlyle and 
Ruskin and George Eliot. Big ideas were moving, fit 
to kindle the spirit of youth. The once derided Pre- 
Raphaelites had become a recognised influence. Watts 
was a reigning force in art. William Morris was inspir- 
ing social reforms a poet's attractive reforms. Furniture, 
wall-papers, even dress became part of the general 
ferment. Toynbee Hall was a new venture, and the idea 
that science was poetic, and that natural law was recon- 
cileable with supernatural power was not as yet the axiom 
of many pulpits. The rising generation of those days 
was too busy entering doors to stop and knock at them. 
Its children may have been extravagant, but they gave 
themselves, and had no morbid fear of being absurd. 



14 MARY COLERIDGE 

Into all this life and movement Mary Coleridge threw 
herself. She did so in the company of congenial com- 
rades. They all acknowledged the same gods, and yet 
their discussions were endless. 

Foremost in their talk came the name of Robert 
Browning. The rest envied Mary, because he went 
to her parents 1 house, although she was too shy to 
speak to him. To the end he was the poet who came 
first with her. Not that she excluded Tennyson, whose 
beauty she felt to the full felt and worshipped. But 
Browning was an influence in her life ; his conceptions of 
love and death, of faith and unfaith, his conviction that 
to miss good was worse than to do evil, all this expressed 
for her her inmost beliefs. Her notes, delicately written 
on the margin of the volume, make an excellent com- 
mentary on Sordello ; and in her copy of Pauline she 
has given at the sides of the pages every different 
version of the lines, collected with infinite trouble in the 
Library of the British Museum. Paracelsus, the Drama- 
tic Lyrics, Men and Women, the plays, she knew from 
cover to cover. They warmed her with their fire. 

And then there were the Pre-Raphaelites. Mary was 
always their fervent votary. When the Fine Arts first 
exhibited Mr. Graham's collection of Rossettis, her 
excitement was intense. Four of that little band of 
girls still remember the stories they wrote in competi- 
tion upon the picture, ' How they met Themselves, 1 and 
how Mary's eerie tale held them spell-bound. They 
remember, too, how at other seasons it was the stage 
that filled their minds and for them the stage of 



MARY COLERIDGE 15 

those years meant the Lyceum, meant Irving and Ellen 
Terry. 

This was no bad thing for a Shakespeare scholar like 
Mary, and the papers she wrote then upon the drama 
show that her powers of criticism became quickened. 
They were among the first things she published, and 
came out under a nom de plume, in a magazine called 
The Theatre. 

Her days were full. Friendship and literature made 
her happy, friendship at this moment, in particular, for 
others of her companions pursued art, and one of them 
had also begun to write. To Mary, her friends 1 doings 
were a romance ; no one believed in them as she did. In 
them she lived vicariously. Through them she gained 
experience, and she enlarged it by her own imagination. 
Thus existence was idealised for her, although it was not 
always serene. Like other poets, she continued to have 
many moods. The sense of beauty which gave her so 
much joy on good days, was her torment on bad ones. 

' It 's a dreary day,** she wrote from Broadstairs, ' and 
I 'm self-discontented. When F. is self-discontented, she 
thinks of Charlotte Bronte, and says sternly to herself, 
" You fool ! " But I don't derive much satisfaction from 
that form of rebuke. The sea is no colour, the sky is no 
colour, the houses are uglier than no colour. I have 
reduced all my possible courses of action in the future 
to four, and whichever I elect to follow, I am quite sure 
that the three others immediately seem to be preferable. 
What a mockery is Free Will under such circumstances ! 
I declare I very nearly wish I had a governess.' . . . 



16 MARY COLERIDGE 

And yet if that day a gleam had shone upon the 
waters, or if she could have found a green field to sit in, 
her mood would have changed. She was as changeful as 
the sea she so adored. No one was more affected by 
Nature. The wind lashed her, the sunset calmed her, the 
snow excited her, to the hills she looked for help. She 
did not wish to ' receive but what she gave ' ; she liked 
Nature to be a power outside her, infusing into her the 
joy, the peace, that she did not always possess. She 
never felt that power more than in Northumberland. 
Northumberland haunted her : she loved its stern moods, 
its summer richness, its Border sights, its strong romance. 
In the house of her dear Quaker friends, the Hodgkins,. 
where she stayed every year from this time forwards, she 
learned her Northumberland in the best way. For Dr. 
Hodgkin, the historian, was her guide, and he made even 
wayside stones alive with old story. The sea-girt castle 
of Bamborough, so long the Hodgkins' home, seemed 
made for her.^ She delighted to sleep in her turret 
chamber there, or to pass, as she once did, a memorable 
night on its tower, watching the moon set and the sun 
rise over the wide sea. She had other Northumbrian 
friends, to whom she paid yearly visits. Those to the 
family of Sir Andrew Noble provided her with some of 
her best memories, most of all when they lived at Chill- 
ingham, another home of her dreams. 

\ 

Strike, Life, a happy hour, and let me live 

But in that grace ! 
I shall have gathered all the world can give, 

Unending Time and Space. 



MARY COLERIDGE 17 

Bright light and air the thin and shining air 

Of the North land, 
The light that falls on tower and garden there, 

Close to the gold sea-sand. 

So begins the second of the three poems that she called 
< Chillingham.' 

But her visits there were in later years. 

She was only twenty-two when sorrow came to her. 
The aunt died who shared her home, who had been 
her friend and her counsellor. And the first contact with 
death the first shock to the permanence of things is 
like none other. It was bound to change her sensitive 
being, to alter her outlook. And it did so in a strange 
way. To most young people Death comes as the King of 
shadows. To her, a dreamer of dreams, Death intensi- 
fied reality it made life more concrete, even while it 
made it more painful. And the next few years were 
filled with family troubles which left their mark upon her 
spirit. They were years that went to the making of 
many of her poems. 

Not long after this, Mary Coleridge first read 
Tolstoy, and there began for her a struggle which 
lasted her lifetime. It concerned her attitude towards 
the poor, which was like that of no one else. She 
was not born to work among them. There was no 
touch of Dinah Morris about her, still less of the 
organised worker. But the thought of the poor seldom 
left her. She was penetrated by the Christian ideal, the 
conception of true equality, born of love. It was part of 
her deepest being; it was part of her family heritage. 



18 MARY COLERIDGE 

Most believers in Christian ideals are over-apt to substi- 
tute a kind of tender patronage for the brotherhood once 
preached in Judaea. Mary Coleridge, more humble and 
more candid, saw things in a different light. She took 
for granted that men should stand on one spiritual level ; 
that the existence of a soul, alike in beggar, philosopher, 
and king, was the brevet of equality appointed by the 
King of kings to carry an authority annulling all distinc- 
tions. Without this equality in notions of truth and 
honour, she found real intercourse impossible. Philan- 
thropic institutions, however splendid, left her cold and 
uninterested. They allowed no room for the play of 
personality, without which she felt depressed and in- 
effectual. When she began to work among the poor, it 
was this kind of friendship she was seeking. It was long 
before she gave up the search. Here and there she 
found exceptions; but she was duped and disappointed 
times out of number, and each time seemed to her a 
mere accident. And it was a profound disappointment 
when at last it dawned upon her that her hope could not 
be realised that the obstacle to true equality lay, not 
only in the rich, but in the poor themselves. She saw 
things as they were, unblinded by the philanthropic 
exaltation which idealises sin and suffering ; unconsoled 
by the formulae with which modern science explains away 
evil. Ugliness and coarseness repelled her; she shrank 
from the contact of vice. It was not that she did not 
see the virtues of poverty; she could be profoundly 
moved by the meekness, and the kindness, and the 
courage that she sometimes witnessed by 'the quiet, 



MARY COLERIDGE 19 

unconscious majesty of their endurance, 1 to use words of 
her own. But she had learnt her lesson. The poor, she 
now felt, could not be her brothers as she meant them 
to be. 

We are not near enough to love, 

I can but pity all your woe ; 
For wealth has lifted me above, 

And falsehood set you down below. 

If you were true, we still might be 

Brothers in something more than name ; 

And were I poor, your love to me 

Would make our differing bonds the same. 

Love never comes but at love's call, 

And pity asks for him in vain ; 
Because I cannot give you all, 

You give me nothing back again. 

And you are right with all your wrong, 

For less than all is nothing too : 
May Heaven beggar me ere long, 

And Truth reveal herself to you. 

So she wrote later in life. The gulf was always there 
for her, but she believed that others than herself might 
bridge it over. It was Tolstoy, the Tolstoy of the 
Parables, who, in these older days, taught her how, and 
made her see with his eyes. He showed her that wrong 
would never grow right till we practised the gospel 
precepts literally, and began to try and lead the divine 
life of love for all. It was the idea of larger love which 
attracted her, for love was the one authority she always 
acknowledged as supreme. Duty forbade her to leave 
home, so that the problems of living among the poor 



20 MARY COLERIDGE 

were spared her. But for a long time she doubted 
whether she ought to write, instead of giving her time 
to working in some more active way for her kind- 
doubted and suffered in the process. Then she decided 
it in her own way. 

6 Tolstoy is a short cut, and I don't like short cuts to 
goodness/ said a friend in discussing the matter. ' That 
is not what keeps me/ answered Mary; 'I feel that 
Tolstoy is right, but that very few people are strong 
enough to lead the perfect life ; I know that / am too 
weak, I could not live like that. But it is my own weak- 
ness which holds me ; it is no fault of Tolstoy's.' 

This c call ' to a wider Christianity was the only kind 
of * call ' that really appealed to her. For 6 vocations," 1 
cloistral or otherwise, that meant separation from human 
affection, she felt a kind of dismayed respect, but she did 
not understand them. She often thought them wrong. 

' It grieves me very much to feel that you feel that you 
are taking a lower path in coming back. Our Lord did 
not tell every one to go and evangelise. He did not tell 
Lazarus to, for instance, nor any of that family; nor 
does He seem to have made it the theme of many of his 
discourses, except to the disciples. It will seem to me 
that He wants us to do what He gave us the power to 
do not things that are against nature. I know you 
think that nature ought not to count that faith should 
be everything and that everything can be done by 
faith. And I see this side of it also. So that I feel 
most deeply for you about it. Only I think Love is a 
safe guide, and that, God being Love, we may always 



MARY COLERIDGE 21 

yield to love without going wrong. It seems to me 
that you are yielding to love.' 

Thus she wrote to one she cared for, who wished to be 
a missionary, but was prevented. The words represented 
her creed. Later, she went further towards a solution. 
She always showed a genius for teaching, had from 
earliest days taught needy pupils ; and now she found in 
this pursuit a means of sincere intercourse with those 
below her. She sought out the working-girls who wished 
to learn, and their wish created an equality. For years 
she had a class at home ; from 1895 onwards she taught 
at the Working Women's College. Of her lessons and 
her influence in that place there will be cause to speak 
hereafter. 

The disregard of her literary work, compared with any 
kind of service to her fellows, only increased a natural 
inclination. She could not take her writing seriously. 
She was too humorous and too humble to do so. ' I 
shall always go on writing, because it amuses me so,' was 
the conclusion of her moral questionings, when debating 
her right to make books at all. She would write in odd 
corners, in odd postures, at odd moments anyhow, so as 
to escape detection. She would allow every one to 
interrupt her. Any bore in human form who made a 
claim upon her seemed to her more important than what 
she was about. Indeed, to those who knew that her art 
would have profited by more respectful treatment, her 
self-neglect was often provoking. And, apart from this, 
Nature had handicapped her in her character of author. 
She suffered from a constitutional secretiveness about her 

/ 



22 MARY COLERIDGE 

work which made her, the most truthful of beings, have 
recourse to innocent fibs, to any subterfuge, rather than 
reveal what she was writing even to those who were 
nearest to her. Coleridge, we are told, used suddenly to 
hide himself in London for weeks together from his 
family. His great-niece had the same need for conceal- 
ment. A question about her books would make her 
miserable in early days to the point of tears. And 
although success helped her to be less nervous, it did not 
do away with this strange habit. To the last she dis- 
liked allusion to her books, and could hardly answer 
questions about them. This was in personal intercourse. 
As soon as she was alone with pen and paper, and could 
not see the person she was addressing, she did not much 
mind what she said. She was capable of the most 
surprising boldness by letter, and of nonplussing self- 
betrayals to the public. She could even write to authors 
unknown to her such praises as would have killed her to 
pronounce. They were, so to speak, confidences to the 
pillar-post, and once they were in that receptacle, she did 
not care. 

Self-confidence, however, grew with success, and it was 
not long before success came. But it did not follow upon 
her first published novel, The Seven Skepers of Ephtsus, 
which appeared in 1893. The book, a reckless fantasia, 
the record of seven young men^s adventures, was too wild 
an attempt to take with the public, and was more or less 
of a failure a failure crowned by one laurel, the praise 
of Stevenson. And the laurel remained green when the 
failure had faded from her memory. She printed nothing 



MARY COLERIDGE 23 

again until 1896. In 1895, the poet, Robert Bridges, 
was staying in the house of a relation who was also a 
friend of Mary Coleridge. He happened to pick up 
from the table a little volume of manuscript verse that 
was lying there, to glance at it, to find himself arrested. 
The poems, he said, must see the light; he wanted to 
know who had written them. This was his introduction 
to their author, the beginning of a friendship which 
became one of the chief refreshments of her life. And 
her visits to him and his family, at Yattenden first, then 
near Oxford, were among the events she loved to dwell 
upon. She was an ardent admirer of Bridges'* work; 
she could hardly believe that he cared for anything of 
hers. Perhaps he alone could have persuaded this hider 
of her talents to give her poems, the record of years, in 
any form to the public. He did so, and they proceeded 
to enjoy much intercourse over the manuscript. From 
him she received criticism and technical training such as 
she had not had before, and the result was the slender 
grey paper book, Fancy's Following, by ' Anodos,' 
printed by the Daniel Press, and possessed by compara- 
tively few, but precious to those who do possess it. She 
explains the source of her pseudonym in the pages of an 
old diary, while speaking of her resolve to keep a 
journal. 

4 For the piece, it shall be just my daily life, the life 
behind the scenes, and the audience shall sit at the 
back, and for the Dramatis Personae I will myself 
represent them, for of what other do I know anything ? 
and lest this / should grow troublesome and impor- 



24 MARY COLERIDGE 

tunate, I will christen myself over again, make George 
Macdonald my godfather, and name myself after my 
favourite hero, Anodos in Phantasies. ... If Anodos 
dies or gets married, the work will be discontinued ; 
no one writes diaries in Paradise. If not, vogue la 
galereS 

But if she were on no road, as the name she chose 
suggests, it was because she had stepped aside into the 
pathless meadows of poesy. None who know such 
haunts can miss the real poet's note of her verse the 
fresh sincerity of her inspiration the often gem-like 
choice of her words and the subtle, quiet music of her 
metres, usually simple ones, but beautiful in their 
delicate interfacings. 

Fancy's Following, and its successor, Fancy's Guerdon? 
brought her appreciation from those whose opinion she 
valued. And among them was another poet besides 
Bridges, with whom she had sometime since formed a 
friendship. This was Canon Dixon, the friend of the 
Pre-Raphaelites, the lyrical mystic, about whom Mary 
wrote one of her most charming essays. ' The Hermit of 
Warkworth,' in Non Sequitur. With him she also 
corresponded, chiefly on poetic matters. 

It is interesting that she learned to know both these 
poets mainly through correspondence. She had made 
acquaintance with them on her own merits, and that 
created an equality which did away with her shyness. 

1 Fancy's Guerdon contained several of the poems in Fancy's 
Following, besides a good many new ones. It was published by Elkin 
Matthews. 



MARY COLERIDGE 25 

Whereas with such great men as Browning and Tennyson, 
who saw in her but her father's daughter, she formed no 
personal relation. Vivid and detailed are her descriptions 
of Tennyson's talk and of his reading, to which she had 
the chance of listening on many visits to Farringford, 
but there she was too timid to reveal herself she 
remained an unobserved spectator. 

Her poems were followed, in 1897, by her historical 
romance, The King with Two Faces , which had 
immediate success and suddenly brought her reputation. 
She herself told a friend in India the story of how it 
came to be written, and the account is worth quoting, 
because it gives a notion of the odd quality of her 
creativeness. 

' About four years ago, one night when all the rest 
had gone to bed, the first chapter came into my head, 
and I scribbled it down, only putting letters for the 
different men, because I couldn't be bothereql to find 
names. Why they were there for whom tjhey were 
waiting what they wanted to kill him for I couldn't 
imagine. It bothered me dreadfully. When I'd written 
about a page and a half, I stopped, but it almost made 
me feel ill to know that I couldn't go on. I should think 
a kettle might feel like that, if it wanted to boil 
and couldn't. However, it was no use ; so I put it aside. 
Some time afterwards I came on the story of Ribbing in 
the memoirs of Alexandre Dumas, pere, wtyo was the 
bosom friend of his son, and all at once it flashed across 
me that this was the man. So I went on, a/nd showed 
the beginning to two people who didn't care^ for it, and 



26 MARY COLERIDGE 

to three people who did, and the three people who did 
were very encouraging and pulled it through somehow. 
. . . When I had done nearly half, a new Life of 
Gustav in. came out, and I had to make any number of 
alterations. . . . At last it got itself finished, and the 
committee struck out two purely historical chapters at 
the end (most interesting I thought they were they 
were all by the best authorities)."* 

Her first chapters were generally conceived in this 
manner, and a distinguished writer once said of her 
that if a volume were made of her * Beginnings ' she 
would rank as a genius of the first order. But her 
creativeness was incomplete. It almost seemed as if she 
had not enough talent to support and sustain her genius. 
Yet that her imagination rang true there was striking 
proof. The novel was read by the Swedish Minister, 
whose wife was a descendant of the heroine ; and he was 
startled to find in the account of her, an incident con- 
cerning her affairs which, as he thought, was known to 
none was, indeed, only discoverable in certain private 
family papers. He had underrated the power of 
creative insight, and the author was enchanted. 

The King was succeeded, in 1899, by The Fiery 
Dawn ; and, in 1900, came her volume of Essays, Non 
Sequitur to some the prose work of hers they love the 
best. Nineteen hundred and five brought The SJiadow 
on the Wa'l, an early story revived, and printed to get 
money for her poor; and, in 1906, she gave us the 
maturest of her novels, The Lady on the Drawing-room 
Floor, a fascinating gossamer web of fact and fancy, of 



MARY COLERIDGE 27 

human insight and poetic oversight, of graceful drollery 
and shadowy melancholy. And in the final year of her 
life she was busy over a mediaeval romance, which 
remained unfinished on her writing table, together with 
the last completed pages of a short life of Holman Hunt 
the modern painter who, perhaps, most kindled her 
enthusiasm written at his own request for a series of 
Artists'* Biographies. 

But the work by which her name will live, the per- 
fected collection of her poems (two hundred and twenty- 
seven of them, including the original forty-five), did not 
appear till after her death. They were found in note- 
books and in letters, in odd corners here, there, and 
everywhere these revelations of her innermost life ; 
now deep and still, like the reflections in a pool, with 
here and there a trembling when the winds of thought 
swept over her ; now more like a meteoric flash, quick, 
brilliant, lost in mist, before those who looked had 
grasped its presence. 

Of her prose it is harder to speak. Her novels were 
the novels of a poet, and this was her weakness and her 
strength. In her writing she showed the same wilful 
love of mystification that she showed in her life. Will- 
o'-the-wisp-like, she would lead her reader the untymdest 
and crookedest of dances ; anywhere to avoid walking 
straight. This perversity, added to a natural inability 
to construct, often made her stories obscure, and the 
plots very hard to follow. And then she had /an almost 
paradoxical conviction of the fictitiousne^s of fact. 
' Unreality attracts certain minds, as money/ attracts the 



28 MARY COLERIDGE 

miser, rank the base-born, heroic death the young. The 
unreal denizens of that world are to some people dearer 
than flesh and blood. Not to all. " So natural, so real," 
say the people who live in world No. 1, when they read 
story-books; but they speak falsely. Life is not a 
story-book, or no stories need ever be written. . . . 
There is nothing so inconsistent, so inartistic as reality. 
Humorous it may be and pathetic more humorous and 
more pathetic than any story that was ever written 
but quite without that strange power of pleasing, and 
satisfying, which is the property of things and people 
that never were. 1 * These words of hers are the keynote 
of her writing. They represent her constant conviction. 
But since she handled common things and human beings, 
it often led her astray ; and criticism which would be 
unfair if she had only dealt in irresponsible fancy, is 
sometimes justified by her airy treatment of the real. 
On the other hand, the glamour of romance, the atmo- 
sphere of gallant paradox, the challenge from the Unseen 
to the seeri^ lend a charm, all their own, to her pages. 
Whether or no she could draw a man, whether or no her 
women live, life lives in her books life, as she saw it, with 
the eyes of her pure quixotic spirit, by the light of her 



gay and nir 



ble wit. And over every volume she wrote 



are scattera . sayings, beautiful and helpful, words that 
enlighten ar d suggest, thoughts, impressions, that haunt 
us by their pnconscious daring. 

It was a surprise, and a happy one, that Mary 
Coleridge e\njoyed her success, although she did not 
enjoy allusions to it. Her shy manners melted before 



\ 






MARY COLERIDGE 29 

it. She no longer came into a room apologetically her 
presence gained a certain repose. And she began to 
like accepting invitations. 

' I Ve become very conceited,' she wrote ; ' E. is not so 
conceited as I am, though she has been to see the 
descendants of her book, and they all ... put on 
grand silk blouses in her honour. . . . She has never 
got over the fact that she bicycled down to them and 
appeared in a humble bicycling skirt. Now I appeared 
to mine robed in green and gold, with a Gainsborough 
hat." 1 It was, indeed, the best result of her growing 
reputation that her work put her into touch with the 
many minds to whom it appealed. It made friends for 
her outside her immediate circle, less distinguished than 
Bridges and Dixon, but stimulating to her intellect. 
Some were interesting, others were not, but often Mary 
did not know the difference. At all times of her life 
she had an unaccountable faculty for finding the dull 
and dowdy delightful, and full of strange attractions. 
Nor was this due to any Christian motive, but only to 
her power of falling in love and falling in love faith- 
fully. You could never tell whom Mary would like, 
or whom she would dislike, and as for the reasons of 
her feelings, they baffled herself as much as others. 
Her tastes and prejudices flowed in a whimsical channel, 
which seemed to lie quite apart from the rest of her 
gentle nature. If asked why she expressed antipathy or 
sympathy, she would only reiterate her verdict, she 
could not explain it. And sometimes it was not the 
dull people, but the frivolous, whom she liked incon- 






30 MARY COLERIDGE 

sistently. Charming manners often had to do with 
it. They seldom failed to conquer her. Even with 
characters in books it was the same, and in youth, when 
she was reading Wilhelm Meister, her favourite woman 
was Philine, the light and feather-brained little actress ; 
she could not endure the Schone Seele, with all her 
noble aspirations. 

There was, it is true, one kind of person she almost 
invariably liked. It was dangerous to bring her within 
earshot of an egoist, for egoists always captivated her. 
She never found them out, and she thought them the 
most fascinating beings. The more they made use of 
her, the more fascinating she thought them. It was 
partly because she was selfless and enjoyed devotion to 
others. But it was also because she worshipped vitality 
and a strong consciousness, the forces she longed for and 
missed in herself; forces which egoists possess, even 
although they may only lie in a strong consciousness of 
self. Mary Coleridge often wore herself out in the 
service of amiable despots, doing things for them that 
any drudge could have done as well, and thinking all 
the time what exceptional beings they were. 

But to old friends and to new alike, what a friend 
she was ! Those who had her friendship knew well that 
there was nothing like it. In a way that was hers alone, 
she lived the life of the heart. Her friends'* existences 
were hers. She did not share their joys and sorrows she 
identified herself with them ; so much so, that she hardly 
distinguished them from her own, and thus, unknown to 
herself, they went on furnishing her with the experiences 



MARY COLERIDGE 31 

she lacked. Some, indeed, of her poems that seem the 
most intimately personal give a false impression of 
wishes and sufferings she never had. They are inspired 
by what happened to those she loved by feelings and 
episodes sometimes serious, sometimes transient, but 
intensified by her imagination. It was always the 
imagination of the heart, not the head. She had no 
curiosity, only sympathy. To have a success shared by 
Mary Coleridge was a revelation of generosity. Any 
triumph of those she cared for intoxicated her there is 
no other word ; the embarrassment she felt when she 
herself was praised was compensated for by her delight 
in the praise she heard of others. And as with their 
happiness, so with their grief. She was a lyre over 
whose responsive strings every emotion swept, making 
music. The letters that she wrote to those in sorrow are 
among the few that say the unsayable. She could not 
be conventional ; she never tried to comfort ; she knew 
that what is called 'getting over' a loss is the worst 
part of it. She feared to handle the unseen, and shrank 
from the glibness of religious commonplace. But all her 
words were transfused by a light from within that was 
kindled by faith in God. 

About the little chambers of my heart 

Friends have been coming going many a year. 

The door stands open there. 
Some, lightly stepping, enter ; some depart. 

Her own lines best describe her friendships. 

One secret of her power was that to each inmate of 



32 MARY COLERIDGE 

those chambers she gave such a devotion that it seemed 
as if he were her only friend. ' There 's nobody to say 
j ust the things you say ; there 's nobody to whom I say 
just what I say to you. One bit of my heart is all dried 
up ' so she wrote to a friend who was abroad, but she 
might have used the words to any one absent member of 
her spacious commonwealth. 

As she grew older, there were many young people who 
'lightly stepped 1 in and out, with the confidences and 
merriment of youth : maidens whom she taught, and, 
towards the end, young men who came to her for literary 
criticism, for sympathy of all sorts. They filled her life 
with fresh interest. ' I could not do without new friend- 
ships they refresh me," she said two months before she 
died. And then there were the children she loved. 
She had a profound reverence for childhood, and it 
sometimes made her shy of them, till they, in turn, were 
shy of her. But when her diffidence vanished, there was 
no one they loved better ; and those whom she enchanted 
by her stories, or those rarer and more favoured ones 
whom she took with her to see pictures and statues and 
to listen to her wonder-tales about them, are not likely 
to forget what she told them, or to lose her image from 
their hearts. 

So she lived, surrounded by those she loved. Yet it 
must not be supposed that she was constantly dependent 
upon companionship. She could not get on without 
solitude. ' It has been wonderful ; solitude is so ex- 
citing," was her comment on a long time of loneliness 
which her friends had dreaded for her. Her quickened 






MARY COLERIDGE 33 

imagination had possessed her ; thronging fancies had 
been her guests. 

As to her relations to books, they were much like her 
relations to people. To books she gave the same kind 
of criticism wayward, enthusiastic, unreasoned. She 
seldom went back upon a judgment, because it was 
based upon something instinctive, stronger than herself, 
which made her unconvertible. She was fond, as has 
been seen, of powerful or strange effects in literature, and 
was surprisingly a modern in her likings. In life, she 
shrank from violence in art it often gave her pleasure. 
She welcomed Renoir and Monet with delight, and found 
in them nothing that puzzled her. And she hailed Ibsen 
in a day when very few acknowledged him. These 
advanced tastes of hers stood out in unexpected contrast 
to the almost old-fashioned modesty and self-restraint of 
her character in contrast, also, to her admiration for 
the Pre-Raphaelites. But she was always many-sided, 
and, in her, the love for one kind of art did not preclude 
an equal love for another. Her modernness did not inter- 
fere with her classicism, but she had a great mistrust of 
any grooves and of any academic shibboleth. Yet, 
catholic though she was, you could never wholly count 
upon her. You might bring her a poem that you would 
have sworn she would care for, you might enjoy the 
prospect of sharing it with her and then be met by a 
disappointing blank. She was probably put off by some 
heaviness, or offended by some detail ; for it was another 
of her peculiarities that detail often struck her first, 
sometimes to the injury of main outlines. 'I always 

c 



34 MARY COLERIDGE 

remember kittens and balls of worsted instead of the big 
things," she wrote * It is a terrible mistake to be born 
with such a capacity for seeing details that you never 
see anything else. And even the details generally belong 
to something I don't think they belong to. 1 All these 
qualities made her a stimulating, but not a safe literary 
counsellor. The reviews that she wrote for the Monthly 
Review and Guardian, and, from 1902 onwards, for 
the Times Literary Supplement, are always charming 
bits of herself and sometimes good pieces of criticism. 
But unequal though she was as a reviewer, she never 
failed to be a fine and sane j udge of all that was really 
great, of all that was really petty. And when set on 
some special task, such as advising a fellow-writer, her 
pronouncements gave new light and lent fresh impulse. 
For herself, she avoided criticism, because she knew how 
impossible it was, however she might wish it, to alter 
what she had written at least as far as her stories were 
concerned. In verbal matters, and in poetry, she could 
sometimes change, and she would do so, when she could, 
with the best will in the world, although she knew very 
well how to hold her own, with a breezy power of 
resistance. And no one was stricter or more con- 
scientious with herself. She corrected and re-corrected 
and re-wrote, with a scrupulous perseverance. 

Music was the taste that developed last in her. Her 
love for it was growing when she died. She always 
cared for opera, and it was characteristic of her that 
she early became spell-bound by Wagner. But here the 
poetry counted, perhaps, for more -than the music. Her 



MARY COLERIDGE 35 

sister's playing first revealed Beethoven to her late in 
the day and, after him, Brahms. And gradually music 
expressed for her things that nothing else could express. 

Voice of the stars when earth arose from sleep, 
And Light, the Eldest Child of God, was born 

And flashed his beams across the shining deep. 
Voice of the Angels, ere the ruddy morn 

Had clomb the Palestinian mountains steep, 

While drowsy shepherds watched beside their sheep. 

These lines are called ' Music ' in her note-book. 

One of the pleasures that she most enjoyed, but 
seldom indulged in, was travel. In her youth she went 
yearly to Germany, and Germany, the land of fairy- talc, 
was well suited to her fancy. But, as with most poets, 
it was Italy that possessed her. She was never in Rome, 
but once she went to Florence and Perugia, and once 
she saw Venice. She was with her great friends, the 
Fuller-Maitlands, and that holiday worked magic in her 
imagination. 

For the rest, she shall speak for herself, in two letters 
from abroad. The first is written in 1893 from Perugia. 

' I am off my head with happiness. I feel as if I 'd 
come not to a Fatherland but to a Motherland that 
I had always longed for and never known. How I am 
ever to leave it I don't know. How I am ever to be 
happy anywhere else I can't think. " Here will I dwell, 
for I have a delight therein." . . . We went to Assisi 
yesterday. . . . The little black Delia Robbia of St. 
Francis, its dim eyes gazing out of the darkness where 
the darkness of death fell upon him struck me more 



36 MARY COLERIDGE 

than anything else; if I had had five minutes alone 
there, my own eyes would have spoken to his in tears. 
The white Nativity on the other side of the church 
fills the very name of Santa Maria degli Angeli with 
light. Heavenly joy and divine sorrow, that is indeed 
a House of God which holds them both. Of the pictures 
here, I love best the stiff Bonfigli Pieta. ... I am also 
deeply attached to the jam-tart angel, and to two of 
Caporali's, and to a charming ox with his paws curled 
round St. Luke's Gospel. ... I stood on the steps (of 
the Cathedral) this morning and tried to fancy Fra 
Bernardino preaching from that little open pulpit and all 
the excited people crying in the Piazza. One ^eems to 
have travelled far away not only in space but in time. 
It would surprise me much less to meet Benedict xi. 
round the corner than it would to see Oscar Wilde." 1 

The second letter came from the Romischer Kaiser, 
at Freiburg im Breisgau. 

'This is the dearest, queerest little city. Whenever 
any one dies or gets married they build a little pink 
tower and as likely as not, they roof it with bright green 
tiles. The troops are always manoeuvring, the Grand 
Duke is always having a birthday, or the Patron Saint 
a Festival. The streets bubble and splash with running 
streams and fountains the lovely Cathedral broods on 
its nest of gabled houses like a great bird in the stuffy 
but charming theatre Tannhauser and Wilhelm Tell 
are crowned with wreaths of German asters. The priests 
are very nice indeed and wear neat violet sashes. This 
house was built in 1408. All sorts of emperors, Roman 



MARY COLERIDGE 37 

and otherwise, appear to have stayed in it. If they get 
such excellent Windbeutel as we do, I'm sure I don't 
wonder.' 

Three years before this letter was written, the 
Coleridges' close family circle was broken up. In 1898 
Mary's mother died, leaving her more than ever the 
companion of the father she so adored. She, he, and 
her sister formed an indivisible trio. No one ever dared 
to think of them apart. But outside the well-loved 
home Mary had suffered painful losses. Many of her 
friends were older by a generation than herself, and one 
by one they had passed away. Then, within her own 
household, came the dangerous illness of her sister, and 
again she was face to face with death. The blow did 
not fall and her dearest was spared to her, but the deep 
distress of the suspense left its ineffaceable traces. All 
these things made her think even more constantly about 
the subjects that had always haunted her about the 
mystery of dying and the hidden problems beyond death. 
Her poems show us how omnipresent such thoughts 
became with her. 'This world grows more and more 
shadowy, and the other world more real as I grow older,' 
she said to a friend not long before she died ; and when 
cares thickened round her it sometimes seemed as if she 
could no longer bear the strain of mortality except by 
flight into the world of the imagination. A spiritual 
imagination and one which is better described by that 
attribute than by the word religious. For though Mary 
Coleridge was religious, and deeply so, no four walls 



38 MARY COLERIDGE 

could contain her faith. It was diffused throughout her 
being her work, her play, her tears, her laughter. She 
was imbued with a mystical sense of the divine in human 
life, and although a beautiful service appealed to her in 
church, more than all in a cathedral, she disliked any 
ritual in daily existence, any set times even for devotion, 
any hard and fast rule for conduct and most when 
such rules interfered with natural habits and affections. 
' Don't you find the Life of Pascal very depressing ? ' 
she wrote, 'Saints who object to their sisters kissing 
them puzzle me more than a murder.'' But the more 
she disregarded formulas, the more deeply did she care 
for the truth behind them. Born into the Church of 
England, she remained in it; she was loyal to its 
traditions, and loved, as she said, to kneel where her 
forefathers had knelt. But as she grew older, faith 
seemed to her larger than any set of beliefs ; the life of 
Christ more vital than Christianity. 

' 1 went . . . this morning to hear the Bishop,' runs a 
letter, 'and at the end of nearly two hours of him, 
felt how much better the time would have been employed 
reading to an old woman in Yeoman's Row or looking 
at pictures in the National Gallery. ... All the de- 
testableness of modern words cannot spoil the Gospel. 
I took to that when the Bishop failed this morning, 
and wondered how people can love things about it 
better than the thing itself.' 

The last words are characteristic. She was hardly 
ever severe, but she was so towards those who put a 
strained interpretation on central facts and thus stretched 



MARY COLERIDGE 39 

the bounds of orthodoxy. Herself a Christian, she had 
a fellow-feeling for heresies and heterodoxies, so long 
as they were straightforward. But the assumption of 
figurative meanings in the place of simple truths, the 
evasion of facts in religion by means of high-flown fancy, 
seemed quibbling in her eyes, and the glib envisagement 
of faith which they encouraged more false than either 
the rigours of dogmatism, or the arid ethics of Herbert 
Spencer. 

For Mary Coleridge had known doubts. She had 
suffered from them often. And so she always had 
sympathy with those who did not get beyond doubts, 
and felt a strong attraction for writers who, like Amiel, 
could analyse them with delicacy and reverence. But 
hers were not the doubts of modern thought ; they were 
the fears the misty fears of a poet. Sometimes they 
closed in upon her for a little, and she seemed like one 
who moved through thronging shadows and fought them 
with a silver sword. Imagination came to her help 
and brought her through; the same imagination that 
plunged her in, leading her to places that she never 
meant to reach. For it was more daring than she knew. 
The poet in her was bolder than the woman, and there- 
fore there were conflicts in her soul. Yet the poet it 
was that came to the rescue. 

What am I ? Next door to nothing, but a point in boundless 

space ; 
Made of something that I know not, masked and witnessed 

by a face. 

Caught and firmly held together by a Body and a Mind, 
With Eternity before it, and Eternity behind. 



40 MARY COLERIDGE 

What is walking, running, leaping to the joy of airy flight? 

What is sight beside the seeing in the Infinite of sight ? 

What were knowledge, what were wisdom, were I wise and 

when I knew ? 
Truth itself were Truth no longer, if a man could prove it true. 

It was thus that she continued to achieve belief. The 
lamp of her faith might flicker in the wind, but it never 
went out ; it was held by a steady hand. And if the 
flame was not fiery, it was pure. ' If I die, I am going to 
God,' the words were among the last she spoke. 

It has seemed needful to say as much, because her 
poems have sometimes given a wrong impression. She 
got in verse relief from doubts that pressed upon her, 
and so she constantly gave them voice. Whereas that 
central belief in God and the soul which never faded 
from her, which made itself felt in her presence, and gave 
her that kind of glowing humility unlike any other this 
remained as her treasure and her strength, and found 
expression much more rarely. 

She never dealt in heroics; yet perhaps she envied, 
although she did not share, the single vision of the 
fanatic. Gordon was the hero she chose Gordon who 
served man and gave himself and obeyed no law but that 
of his soul. 

O mighty spirit, whither art thou fled ? 
No mate was found in all the world for thee ; 
Whom hast thou chosen for thy company 
In all the shadowy regions of the dead ? 

So she wrote of the man who was both saint and daring 
adventurer, enthusiast, and humorist. He summed up 
much that she herself would have liked to be. 



MARY COLERIDGE 41 

It is difficult to give even the most inadequate idea of 
Mary Coleridge's soul. It is as difficult to give any true 
impression of her appearance of the fair hair, the small 
head, the long swaying figure, which stooped rather 
forwards when she moved, or when she talked with self- 
forgetfulness. She looked very much like one of the 
women in Blake's pictures. Her form had the same 
quality of intangibleness her step seemed to tread upon 
air. And she also bore a resemblance to a certain lady 
of Fra Angelico's slender, devout who, full of a gay 
spirituality and seated on the ground with her companions, 
is bending towards a preacher in a pulpit and drinking in 
his words with her soul. She would have looked well in 
that dress of early Florence, better still, perhaps, in 
Blake draperies. As it was, she hardly knew what she 
had on, although picturesque clothes on others delighted 
her. Whatever ornaments she wore were characteristic. 
Many of her best jewels she had sold to help the poor, 
but she never parted with any that her friends had given 
her. To her they were symbols, not ornaments. And 
there were others, emblems of old associations, that were 
always part of her person. All who knew her will 
reiKiember the coral charm against the evil eye that had 
dang'led since her childhood from her watch-chain. Rings 
she would have none of; she said they fettered her ; nor 
would t^ey have suited her hands, ' those little spirit- 
hands of h ^rs, 1 delicate yet strong. They were as signi- 
ficant as her L ves blue eyes with gleams of grey, rather 
observant than dreamy. Her dreaminess was expressed 
more by her moui h,but that too was very mobile : some- 



42 MARY COLERIDGE 

times still and rather sad, sometimes gay with a little 
amused smile, full of a droll indulgence ; or eager with that 
other kind of smile, responsive, expectant, which lit her 
face when you told her of something you admired, and 
she had caught your pleasure almost before you had 
expressed it. Yet when all is said, one can but return 
to the word ' spiritual ' as the only one that describes her, 
body and soul. 

For while she did this lower world adorn, 
Her body seem'd rather assumed thaii born ; 
So ratified, advanced, so pure and whole, 
That body might have been another's soul. 

Those lines of a seventeenth-century poet seem made 
for Mary Coleridge. 

It was perhaps because there was this unity about her 
that her diffident presence seldom failed to make a strong 
impression, even upon those who had only seen her once. 
Many of these of every class wrote to say so after her 
death. 'She was good] said the landlady of some 
lodgings where she had stayed. 'No, she wasn't; she 
was something much better than good.' And nowher< 
was the impression stronger than in the Workirg 
Women's College, where, for her last twelve years, on 
Tuesday evenings, she held a class on English liter? oire. 1 
How she kindled their tired minds, after their lo* g day's 
work, with the love of prose and poetry, was a feat in 
itself. But more wonderful still was the way jne won the 

1 For a while, at the outset, she taught English ? ammar, but she was 
glad when a vacancy in a teachership allowed her .o undertake the class 
for literature. 



MARY COLERIDGE 43 

confidence of all these varied characters, and thus, with 
them, bridged over every barrier, affecting the nature of 
each, firing all with the love of goodness. When she 
died, the class was given up altogether. Her pupils 
would not learn from any one else. 

Her last illness seized her with a sharp suddenness. 
She had gone, as she did every year, with her father and 
sister to Harrogate. She had been feeling low and 
tired. One afternoon she had been left at home upon a 
sofa, only wanting repose. When her family came back 
from a walk, they found her radiant, absorbed in Shake- 
speare. ' Life is worth living,' she said, ; as long as there 
is King Lear to read. 1 

Then there came severe attacks of pain a needful 
operation and the end. That end was like herself. She 
knew that she was dying, and she remembered to send her 
love to all the household, even to the ' odd man. 1 She 
had visions on her bed, of roses, of a bird, larger and 
more beautiful than any she had ever seen. To the last 
she showed her love of grace and beauty. And to the 
last she also kept her graciousness. To her, life and 
death were of one texture. 

' I see no object in this detestable flight, of Time, 1 she 
once wrote ' Where 's he flying to ? Why should we 
pretend to like it ? Birthdays now seem to me to be 
like the lamp-posts along a road, when you are nearing 
the end of a long, dark, delicious drive, and however tired 
you may be, are still absolutely uninclined to make the 
effort of getting out of the comfortable home of a 
carriage, and settling yourself in a new house. I like 



44 MARY COLERIDGE 

temporary conditions, and the freedom of them. I can 
hardly remember any drive even to the house of celestial 
people to the end of which I was not sorry to come, for 
the moment. And " Forever " is such a big house. Not 
that I think like this always or often. For the most 
part, I don't remember my own getting old at all, other 
people's getting older is so much worse.' 

The 'long dark delicious' journey is over and she has 
reached that ' big house ' of rest. The chill autumn 
vapours will not reach her : she cannot grow old. 



STORIES 



UNTER DEN LINDEN 

' No, 1 said Sophy, the cousin of Mr. Cocks-Danvers. 

4 Yes, please," said Mr. Cocks-Danvers, the cousin of 
Sophy. 

It is perhaps as well to state definitely, at the outset, 
the exact degree of their relationship. They were 
seconds, twice removed. 

Whenever Sophy wanted to take a walk alone with 
Mr. Cocks-Danvers, she remembered this. 

Whenever Sophy's papa said that he objected to the 
intermarrying of relations, Mr. Cocks-Danvers forgot it. 
On the present occasion he had forgotten it altogether. 
But certain other memories came between him and the 
words that he wanted to say, as they had come between 
over and over again during the last few years of his life. 

And this was fortunate for Sophy's papa. 

' Well ! ' said Sophy, weighing out her words slowly, 
as if every one of them were an item in a long list of self- 
sacrifices, ' if you will make me tell you what I really 
and truly think of it ' 

' Why on earth should I want to hear what you don't 
really and truly think of it, Sophy ? ' 

' Oh, I don't know ! You are very rude to imply that 
I should tell stories. But then it 's literary to be rude, is 
it not ? Literary men in books generally are, especially 



48 STORIES 

to the heroine. Why should we talk about our thoughts 
at all ? Silence is golden.' 

' Give me change then ! I want the silver. 1 
' The plot is magnificent,' Sophy observed ' It reminds 
me of one of Stevenson's best, only there's a something 
about it that Stevenson has not got. And your sense of 
humour is quite delightful, Charles, and it never leaves a 
bad taste in one's mouth like some of the jokes in those 
horrid Plain Tales from the Hills. And the description 
of the tiger hunt kept me awake for hours last night.' 

' My dear Sophy, I once had the felicity of overhearing 
an interview of yours with your cook. When I heard 
you say " The entree was a great success," I wished for 
one distracted moment that I had been that happy per- 
son. When you added, " But as for the sweet things? I 
thanked my stars that I was not' 

* Even her second cousin, twice removed ?' 

' Oh, hang that cousinly business. Won't you begin 
upon the sweets at once ? Suspense is cruel. Skip my 
general superiority to Robert Louis and Rudyard, and 
come to the point at once ! ' 

' Well, then,' said Sophy, ' if you must have it, the 
love-making is all wrong. People don't make love in 
that way/ 

* How on earth do you know ? ' 

6 You don't understand women,' said Sophy. 

' No,' said Charles, with more asperity than the occa- 
sion seemed to call for. ' And upon my soul, I 'm glad 
I do not ! I thought I understood one woman, anyhow. 
But I believe they are all alike, and they're all humbugs. 
There is not one that really says what she means.' 

' Of course not,' said Sophy. 4 She would be a man if 
she did. Besides, the story happened last September, 



UNTER DEN LINDEN 49 

and you have described her in a dress just like the one I 
was wearing when I saw you the first time three years 
ago. How could that possibly be right ? It is the sort 
of thing a critic would come down upon like a sledge- 
hammer.'' 

' Do you think he would notice such a little slip ? ' 
said Charles dubiously. 

' Not if he were a he ; but he 's very often a she nowa- 
days. And they write in the Saturday and the Athenceum 
and everywhere ! You really must alter the dress."* 
Charles considered her attentively. 
{ Can't I stick her into the gown you Ve got now ? ' he 
asked. 

'That only shows how perfectly inane the cleverest 
men are," said Sophy. ' I always thought you had an 
eye for these things. So you have, in a way. You 
recollect most wonderfully. But don't you see that to 
expose a woman in the future is as great a mistake as to 
muffle her up in the past ? She is never behind the age ; 
but if she 's a nice woman, she is never before it. 1 
' And you don't think Celia a nice woman ? ' 
' Not at all,' said Sophy, with emphasis. 
' Good heavens, Sophy, I thought she was exactly like 
you !' 

' Did you ? How strange ! ' 

' Of course, when I conceived the character, I had no 
idea that any one had ever proposed to you.' 

' Who told you any one had ? ' she cried indignantly. 
' You yourself. You said people did not make love in 
that way. It is clear to the meanest intelligence that 
somebody must have made love to you in another.' 

Sophy contemplated the branches of the lime-tree 
under which they were sitting, and repressed an unfemi- 

P 



50 STORIES 

nine desire to whistle. After all, the frankest woman in 
the world is an impenetrable mystery to the most subtle- 
minded man ; and Charles was not even so subtle as 
Sophy thought him. 

' I want to know what happens in the next chapter,' 
she said. 4 Tell me the end of the story ! ' 

' Oh, I Ve not worked it out yet. It 's very difficult to 
invent an original ending.' 

' It must be very difficult indeed, 1 said Sophy, sympa- 
thetically. ' That is the worst of stories, they Ve all so 
like each other. Men's women are never anything else 
but men and women, whether it 's India, or the High- 
lands, or Whitechapel. A man falls in love with a 
woman, a woman falls in love with a man, and then they 
marry or don't marry, or they die, or one of them dies 
and the other does not. I should make Celia die if I 
were you.' 

6 What crime has she committed,' said Charles, ' except- 
ing that she tried to be like you, Sophy, and failed ? Is 
it not rather hard to pass sentence of death on her for 
that ? No, I shall make Middleton die ! ' 

' And leave me a widow ! ' said Sophy. ' What a shame ! 
Widows' weeds are most dreadfully unbecoming. Venus 
herself could not look well in them. No, please don't 
kill Middleton, whatever you do ! I rather like him.' 

6 You don't behave as if you did,' said Charles, looking 
at her so steadfastly that he compelled her to turn and 
look at him. ' But if I could, I would rather give the 
story a good ending.' 
'Why, may I ask?' 

' Woe does not sell well. The publishers object to it. 
Would it be quite impossible for me to end with a 
wedding, do you think ? ' 



UNTER DEN LINDEN 51 

' Quite impossible, if you let Celia go on in that way. 
But she never would have gone on in that way. That's 
what vexes me. Men think women are such donkeys. 
How could you make her believe that he had acted 
dishonourably ? ' 

' How could she help believing it, when he told her 
himself?' 

4 Just the very reason why she would not have believed 
it!' 

' But she saw it with her own eyes.' 

4 The evidence of the senses,' said Sophy pompously, 
4 is allowed on all hands to be worthless. They are 
always deceiving us.' 

4 1 suppose you admire Shakespeare's Troilus for refus- 
ing to credit his eyes when they told him that Cressida 
was false. I must confess that always appears to me 
overstrained. And then he had to believe them in the 
end, you know. Love may be blind, but he's not so 
blind as all that.' 

4 I never read Troilus and Cressida^ said Sophy in the 
tone of one who proclaims a virtuous action, 4 therefore I 
cannot judge. But a person who believes ill of a friend 
is just as mean as mean can be.' 

4 Ahem ! ' said Charles, and he hummed the first lines 
of a song : 

( I could not love thee, dear, so much, 
Loved I not honour more. 

It was a man who wrote that undoubtedly. But can you 
say he was wrong, even with that obvious disqualifica- 
tion?' 

* Rubbish ! ' said Sophy. 4 You don't love a man be- 
cause he is good ; you love him because you love him. 



52 STORIES 

Why did Middleton like Celia ? Because she had a soup 
kitchen, and taught in the Sunday school, I suppose ?' 

' No, it was not exactly that,' said Charles ; ' but 
Sophy, if if I change all this to please you, if I make 
Celia do what no woman in her senses would do wil 1 
you ' 

'Will I what?' 

' Be Celia and accept Middleton ? ' 

' But you are not Middleton/ said Sophy, and this 
time it was the look in her eyes that drew her cousin's 
round to them. 

4 Yes, but I am. I always wanted to tell you, Sophy. 
But I 'm a fool. I could not. I thought you 'd hate me 
for it. It was before I knew you.' 

6 You did tell me,' said Sophy. ' Do you think I did 
not understand what kept you silent these three years ? 
I always wanted to tell you that I did not mind much.' 

It was borne in on the mind of Sophy's papa, as he 
entered the Lime Walk at that moment, that he was too 
late to make any new observations about the intermarry- 
ing of cousins. 



LONG LIVE THE KING 53 



[1890] 
THE KING IS DEAD, LONG LIVE THE KING 1 

IT was not very quiet in the room where the king lay 
dying. People were coming and going, rustling in and 
out with hushed footsteps, whispering eagerly to each 
other; and where a great many people are all busy 
making as little noise as possible, the result is apt to 
be a kind of bustle, that weakened nerves can scarcely 
endure. 

But what did that matter? The doctors said he 
could hear nothing now. He gave no sign that he 
could. Surely the sobs of his beautiful young wife, as 
she knelt by the bedside, must else have moved him. 

For days the light had been carefully shaded. Now, 
in the hurry, confusion, and distress, no one remembered 
to draw the curtains close, so that the dim eyes might 
not be dazzled. But what did that matter ? The doctors 
said he could see nothing now. 

For days no one but his attendants had been allowed 
to come near him. Now the room was free for all who 
chose to enter. What did it matter ? The doctors said 
he knew no one. 

So he lay for a long time, one hand flung out upon the 
counterpane, as if in search of something. The queen 
took it softly in hers, but there was no answering pressure. 
1 From Rare Bits, September 1890. 



54 STORIES 

At length the eyes and mouth closed, and the heart ceased 
to beat. 

'How beautiful he looks,' they whispered one to 
another. 

When the king came to himself it was all very still 
wonderfully and delightfully still, as he thought, wonder- 
fully and delightfully dark. It was a strange, unspeakable 
relief to him he lay as if in heaven. The room was 
full of the scent of flowers, and the cool night air 
came pleasantly through an open window. A row of 
wax tapers burned with soft radiance at the foot of 
the bed on which he was lying, covered with a velvet pall, 
only his head and face exposed. Four or five men were 
keeping guard around him, but they had fallen fast asleep. 

So deep was the feeling of content which he experienced 
that he was loth to stir. Not till the great clock of the 
palace struck eleven, did he so much as move. Then he 
sat up with a light laugh. 

He remembered how, when his mind was failing him, 
and he had rallied all his powers in one last passionate 
appeal against the injustice which was taking him away 
from the world just when the world most needed him, he 
had heard a voice saying, ' I will give thee yet one hour 
after death. If, in that time, thou canst find three that 
desire thy life, live ! ' 

This was his hour, his hour that he had snatched 
away from death. How much of it had he lost 
already ? He had been a good king ; he had worked 
night and day for his subjects ; he had nothing to fear, 
and he knew that it was very pleasant to live, how 
pleasant he had never known before, for, to do him 
justice, he was not selfish; it was his unfinished work 



LONG LIVE THE KING 55 

that he grieved about when the decree went forth 
against him. Yet, as he passed out of the room where 
the watchers sat heavily sleeping, things were changed 
to him somehow. The burning sense of injustice was 
gone. Now that he came to think of it, he had done 
very little. True that it was his utmost, but there were 
many better men in the world, and the world was large, 
very large it seemed to him now. Everything had grown 
larger. He loved his country and his home as well as 
ever, but in the night it had seemed as if they must 
perish with him, and now he knew that they were still 
unchanged. 

Outside the door he paused a moment, hesitating 
whither to go first. Not to the queen. The very 
thought of her grief unnerved him. He would not see 
her till he could once more clasp her in his arms, and 
bid her weep tears of joy only because he was come 
again. After all, he had but an hour to wait. Before 
the castle clock struck twelve, he would be back again 
in life, remembering these things only as a dream. He 
sighed a little to think of it. 

' All that to do over again some day,' he said, as he 
recalled his last moments. 

Almost he turned again to the couch he had so lately 
left. 

'But I have never yet done anything through fear,' 
said the king. 

And he smiled as he thought of the terms of the 
compact. His city lay before him in the moonlight. 

'I could find three thousand as easily as three,' he 
said. ' Are they not all my friends ? ' 

As he passed out of the gate, he saw a child sitting on 
the steps, crying bitterly. 



56 STORIES 

' What is the matter, little one ? ' said the sentinel on 
guard, stopping a moment. 

c Father and mother have gone to the castle, because 
the king's dead,' sobbed the child, 'and they've never 
come back again ; and I 'm so tired and so hungry ! 
And I've had no supper, and my doll's broken. Oh! 
I do wish the king were alive again ! ' 

And she burst into a fresh storm of weeping. It 
amused the king not a little. 

'So this is the first of my subjects that wants me 
back ! ' he said. 

He had no child of his own. He would have liked to 
try and comfort the little maiden, but there were other 
calls upon him just then. He was on his way to the 
house of his great friend, the man whom he loved more 
than all others. A kind of malicious delight possessed 
him, as he pictured to himself the deep dejection he 
should find him in. 

' Poor Amyas ! ' he said. ' I know what I should be 
feeling in his place. I am glad he was not taken. I 
could not have borne his loss.' 

As he entered the courtyard of his friend's house, 
lights were being carried to and fro, horses were being 
saddled, an air of bustle and excitement pervaded the 
place. Look where he might, he could not see the face 
he knew so well. He entered at the open door. His 
friend was not in the hall. Room after room he vainly 
traversed they were all empty. A sudden horror took 
him. Surely Amyas was not dead of grief? 

He came at length to a small private apartment, in 
which they had spent many a happy, busy hour together ; 
but his friend was not here either, though, to judge by 
appearances, he could only just have left it. Books and 



LONG LIVE THE KING 57 

papers were tumbled all about in strange confusion, and 
bits of broken glass strewed the floor. 

A little picture was lying on the ground. The king 
picked it up, and recognised a miniature of himself, the 
frame of which had been broken in the fall. He let it 
drop again, as if it had burnt him. The fire was blazing 
brightly, and the fragments of a half-destroyed letter 
lay, unconsumed as yet, in the fender. It was in his 
own writing. He snatched it up, and saw it was the 
last he had written, containing the details of an elaborate 
scheme which he had much at heart. He had only just 
thrown it back into the flames when two people entered 
the room, talking together, one a lady, the other a man, 
booted and spurred as though he came from a long 
distance. 

* Where is Amy as ? ' he asked. 

' Gone to proffer his services to the new king, of course,' 
said the lady. ' We are, as you may think, in great 
anxiety. He has none of the ridiculous notions of his 
predecessor, who, indeed, hated him cordially. The very 
favour Amyas has hitherto enjoyed will stand in his way 
at the new court. I only hope he may be in time to 
make his peace. He can, with truth, say that he utterly 
disapproved of the foolish reforms which his late master 
was bent on making. Of course, he was fond of him in a 
way ; but we must think of ourselves, you know. People 
in our position have no time for sentiment. He started 
almost immediately after the king's death. I am sending 
his retinue after him. 1 

' Quite right, 1 said the gentleman, whom the king 
now knew as one of his ambassadors. ' I shall follow 
him at once. Between you and me, it is no bad thing 
for the country. That poor boy had no notion of states- 



58 STORIES 

manship. He forced me to conclude a peace which 
would have been disastrous to all our best interests. 
Happily, we shall have war directly now. Promotions 
in the army would have been at a standstill if he had 
had his way.' 

The king did not stay to hear more. 

'I will go to my people,' he said. 'They at least 
have no interest to make peace with my successor. He 
will but take from them what I gave.' 

He heard the clock strike the first quarter as he went. 
He was, indeed, a very remarkable king, for he knew 
his way to the poorest part of his dominions. He had 
been there before, often and often, unknown to any one ; 
and the misery which he had there beheld had stirred and 
steeled him to attempt what had never before been 
attempted. 

No one about the palace knew where he had caught 
the malignant fever which carried him off. He had a 
shrewd suspicion himself, and he went straight to that 
quarter. 

' Fevers won't hurt me now,' he said laughing. The 
houses were as wretched, the people looked as sickly and 
squalid as ever. They were standing about in knots in 
the streets, late though it was, talking together about 
him. His name was in every mouth. The details of his 
illness, and the probable day of his funeral, seemed to 
interest them mo?e than anything else. 

Five or six meft were sitting drinking round a table in 
a disreputable-looking public-house, and he stopped to 
overhear their conversation. 

' And a good riddance, too ! ' said one of them, whom 
he knew well, ' What 's the use of a king as never spends 
a farthing more than he can help ? It gives no impetus 



LONG LIVE THE KING 59 

to trade, it don't. The new fellow's a very different 
sort. We shall have fine doings soon.' 

4 Ay ! ' struck in another, * a meddlesome, priggish sort 
of chap, he was, always aworritting us about clean houses, 
and such like. What right 's he got to interfere, I 'd like 
to know ? ' 

* Down with all kings ! says I,' put in a third ; ' but if 
we 're to have 'em, let 'em behave as sich. I like a young 
fellow as isn't afraid of his missus, and knows port wine 
from sherry.' 

' Wanted to abolish capital punishment, he did ! ' cried 
a fourth. * Thought he 'd get more work out of the 
poor fellows in prison, I suppose ? Depend on it, there 's 
some reason like that at the bottom of it. We ain't so 
very perticular about the lives of our subjects for nothing, 
we ain't ' ; an expression of opinion in which all the rest 
heartily concurred. The clock struck again as the king 
turned away ; he felt as if a storm of abuse from some one 
he had always hated would be a precious balm just then. 
He entered the state prison, and made for the condemned 
cell. Capital punishment was not abolished yet, and in 
this particular instance he had certainly felt glad of it. 

The cell was tenanted only by a little haggard-looking 
man, who was writing busily on his knee. The king had 
only seen him once before, and he looked at him 
curiously. 

Presently the gaoler entered, and with him the first 
councillor, a man whom his late master had greatly loved 
and esteemed. The convict looked up quickly. 

' It was not to be till to-morrow,' he said. Then, as if 
afraid he had betrayed some cowardice, ' but I am ready 
at any moment. May I ask you to give this paper to my 
wife?' 



60 STORIES 

'The king is dead,' said the first councillor gravely. 
' You are reprieved. His present majesty has other views. 
You will, in all probability, be set at large to-morrow." 

' Dead ? ' said the man with a stunned look. 

6 Dead ! "* said the first councillor, with the impressive- 
ness of a whole board. 

The man stood up, passing his hand across his 
brow. 

' Sir,' he said earnestly, ' I respected him. For all he 
was a king, he treated me like a gentleman. He, too, 
had a young wife. Poor fellow, I wish he were alive 
again ! ' 

There were tears in the man's eyes as he spoke. 

The third quarter struck as the king left the prison. 
He felt unutterably humiliated. The pity of his foe was 
harder to bear than the scorn of his friends. He would 
rather have died a thousand deaths than owe his life to 
such a man. And yet, because he was himself noble, he 
could not but rejoice to find nobility in another. He 
said to himself sternly that it was not worth what he had 
gone through. He reviewed his position in no very self- 
complacent mood. The affection he had so confidently 
relied upon was but a dream. The people he was fain to 
work for were not ripe for their own improvement. A 
foolish little child, a generous enemy, these were his only 
friends. After all, was it worth while to live ? Had he 
not better go back quietly and submit, making no further 
effort ? He had learnt his lesson ; he could 4 lie down in 
peace, and sleep, and take his rest."* The eternal powers 
had justified themselves. What matter though every 
man had proved a liar ? The bitterness had passed away, 
and he seemed to see clearly. 

Thick clouds had gathered over the moon, and the cold 



LONG LIVE THE KING 61 

struck through him. All at once a sense of loneliness 
that cannot be described rushed over him, and his heart 
sank. Was there really no one who cared no one? 
He would have given anything at that moment for a look, 
a single word of real sympathy. He longed with sick 
longing for the assurance of love. 

There were yet a few moments left. How had he 
borne to wait so long ? This, at least, he was sure of, 
and this was all the world to him. He began to find 
comfort and consolation in the thought ; he forgave in- 
deed he almost forgot the rest. Yet he had fallen very 
low, for, as he stood at the door of his wife's room, he 
hesitated whether to go in. What if this, too, were an 
illusion ? Had he not best go back before he knew ? 

6 But I have never yet done anything through fear,' 
said the king. 

His wife was sitting by the fire alone, her face hidden, 
her long hair falling round her like a veil. At the first 
sight of her, a pang of self-reproach shot through him. 
How could he ever have doubted ? 

She was wearing a ring that he had given her a ring 
she wore always, and the light sparkled and flashed from 
the jewel. Except for this, there was nothing bright in 
the room. 

He ardently desired to comfort her. He wondered 
why all her ladies had left her. Surely one might have 
stayed with her on this first night of her bereavement ? 
She seemed to be lost in thought. If she would only 
speak, or call his name ! But she was quite silent. 

A slight noise made the king start. A secret door in 
the wall opened, the existence of which he had thought 
was known only to himself and his queen, and a man 
stood before her. 



62 STORIES 

She put her finger to her lips, as though to counsel 
silence, and then threw herself into his arms. 

' You have come/ she said ' Oh, I am so glad ! I had 
to hold his hand when he was dying. I was frightened 
sitting here by myself. I thought his ghost would come 
back, but he will never come back any more. We may 
be happy always now,' and drawing the ring from her 
finger, she kissed it, weeping, and gave it to him. 

When midnight struck, the watchers wakened with a 
start, to find the king lying stark and stiff, as before, but 
a great change had come over his countenance. 

' We must not let the queen see him again, 1 they said. 



THE DEVIL AT THE GUILDHALL 



THE DEVIL AT THE GUILDHALL 

A FRAGMENT 

' I DON'T believe in him,' said a girl. 

6 1 do, 1 said a man. 

They were standing at the Guildhall, in front of 
Millais' picture of 'The Enemy sowing Tares.' The 
words were forced from them by the overmastering 
power which a work of art exerts over certain natures, 
the tyrannical convincingness of an assertion compelling 
instant negation or consent. To each the other's voice 
came only as the utterance of that opposite half of self 
which speaks in the deliberations of those who are vividly 
conscious of the process of thought and emotion. 

'If you do believe in him,' Althea said, using the 
pronoun as she often used it when talking to herself for 
another form of the word /, ' what becomes of the power 
of God?' 

' If you don't believe in it, can you not see that God 
is not God alone, but the devil ? ' 

6 If you do believe in him,' said Althea again, 'you 
shrink from fathoming the depths of evil in yourself.' 

' If you don't believe in it, there is no refuge left but 
suicide.' 

For the first time Althea, conscious that a discordant 
note had been struck in this curious duet, turned her 



64 STORIES 

eyes from the illustration of the parable to look at her 
fellow-performer. 

Suicide. 

Her quick womanish fancy had far more ghastly 
illustrations before it in a moment. She was obliged to 
look at him to dispel them. 

And as she looked, he seemed so very unlike the 
central figure of her fancy, drowning, shooting, stabbing, 
poisoning itself, that she could not restrain a smile, and 
having smiled, she quickly blushed, recollecting who 
she was, what she had said and where, and moved 
away. 

Nevertheless, though she stood long before 'The 
Wheel of Fortune,"* apparently in rapt contemplation, 
what she saw all the time was still ' The Enemy sowing 
Tares,' and the man who believed in it. 

Distance does more than lend enchantment to the 
view. At a few feet from the object of interest it is 
proper to indulge in observations that would be most 
improper within an inch of him. 

There was no one else in the room, as it happened. 

The object of interest had not once turned his eyes on 
Althea; they were still fixed in a long, critical stare. 
He was the mildest and most inoffensive-looking of 
mortals, dressed with that prim correctness which annoys 
the feminine mind by showing too much of the sincerest 
form of flattery. 

' As neat as a new pin," flashed through her brain. 

His red hair made it yet more annoying; red hair, 
when perfectly smooth, looks aggressively red. He held 
a minute magenta pencil in his hand, with which he was 
marking his catalogue. She hated magenta. With the 
deliberateness that marked most of his actions, he made 



THE DEVIL AT THE GUILDHALL 65 

two small crosses on either side of the name of the 
picture, and closed the list. 

4 It is like,' she heard him mutter. 

And turning neither to the right nor to the left he 
stepped cautiously down the staircase he was near- 
sighted evidently and passed out by the exit from the 
great room below. 

Althea smiled at herself for watching him, though she 
had taken her notes with such scrupulous care that no 
one watching her could possibly have been aware of 
what she had been doing. Then she returned to the 
study of the picture which had provoked her first 
comment. 

The management of light struck her imagination 
forcibly, the thick, lurid glow across the sky, and on the 
river. 

' The light that is in it is darkness,' she said to herself. 
Also, the gleam upon the evil teeth. ' Seeking whom he 
may devour.' 

She passed beyond the sphere of quotation, and 
became absorbed in an effort to realise to the full the 
intense malignity of hands and feet, of face and form. 

'What a picture that girl is,' said a young man, 
entering the room, to a lady who accompanied him. 
' Innocence watching the Serpent. Look at the purity 
of her forehead.' 

' You men are very unobservant,' said the lady in low, 
sweet tones of bell-like resonance. < I am much deceived 
in that face, if it be not "something better than innocent." 
At any rate, it expresses the innocence of pride that 
will not, rather than of guilelessness that cannot, know 
anything of temptation. Pride is stamped upon every 
feature. Do you not see the haughty arching of the 



66 STORIES 

nose, the magnificence of the brow, the stately manner in 
which that raven hair is brushed back, and will not 
condescend to cover so much as the hard edge of it with 
a curl ? Her very pose is as regal as if she were a queen, 
deciding on the merits or demerits of her prime minister.' 

' Speak lower, dear, 1 he said. 

The warning was not unneeded, her dulcet tones were 
far more penetrating than his own tolerably loud and 
cheerful voice. 

But Althea was not listening ; she had forgotten her- 
self for once. A strange procession passed before her. 
Devils of all ages and descriptions, he-devils and she- 
devils, for the Devil's Grandmother from the door of 
Ratisbon Cathedral led them on came dancing, skipping, 
leaping, tumbling, grinning, helter-skelter along the 
floor. They scrambled up the frame. There was Blake's 
Devil out of Job. 

'Why is he first?' she thought confusedly He 's 
not the oldest.' 

And even as she thought, he flung himself down with 
a grand gesture of despair and vanished, not into air, 
into the Enemy. 

The others hung and swung, jeering and leering at her 
from the corners. 

The fantastic creatures of Orcagna, Angelico, Botti- 
celli were there, armed with their little prongs and forks, 
and Dante's devils came, and those that Luther fancied 
sitting upon the roof at Worms. After them, Milton's 
Lucifer flashed swift as black lightning at noon before 
her. She bowed her head for an instant. 

When she looked up he was gone. 

Mephistopheles stood in his place, and grinned. He 
vanished also, and she was left alone with the Enemy. 



THE DEVIL AT THE GUILDHALL 67 

' All gone,' she said, * but that one stays. I did not 
know he was so many.' 

It was as if the wickedness of many generations gleamed 
in the eyes of one. 

' We are not children any longer ; grotesques have no 
terror for us. We are not Puritans any longer ; we don't 
think pride and beauty must be cast into the Pit. We 
are not poets any longer ; we don't think Pessimism is 
revolt against God. And the Devil is dead, and the 
Foul Fiend, and Satan, but there is left the Enemy. All 
gone, but that one stays.' 

The stuff of which these words are made passed through 
her mind inarticulately. 

* How he clutches his bag of seed ! If I had not 
known, I should have thought it was a miser hugging 
his gold.' 

She rose and went her way, full of thought. 

But when she reached the glass doors, and the umbrella 
stack, she paused. The prospect out of doors was not 
encouraging by any means. All the pigeons had flown 
away. The sky was overclouded, and the rain had begun. 
Worse than all this, she discovered that she had put 
astray the little bit of metal entitling her to claim her 
own umbrella. 

Now Althea is a person compact of nervous suscepti- 
bilities. The state of the weather affects her almost as 
much as the toothache, or the electric light in a certain 
house that she knows. She is, in fact, a human barometer, 
and human barometers in London have a very bad time 
of it, inasmuch as Set Fair is not a frequent condition of 
the instrument. 

What was she to do ? How was she to get back that 
umbrella? Of all things, she hated speaking to an 



68 STORIES 

official. Nevertheless, an inward conflict took place in 
her. If she lost that umbrella, she had no spare cash to 
invest in another. 

6 But perhaps the man will not believe what I say. 
And after all, I can send my grandfather for it to-morrow. 
It won't matter this afternoon/ 

Much as she disliked going without it, she disliked 
making an appeal for it even more. She gazed along the 
dreary street as piteously as if she were a cat that 
objected to wetting its feet. As she stood hesitating, 
she fancied that the two men in charge were looking at 
her and wondering why. She had the morbid dislike of 
some unconventional people to appear to be engaged in 
any action, no matter how trifling, that is not perfectly 
conventional. There was no help for it. Out she must 
go. She closed the door at once behind her. 

As she went down the dripping pavement, she stared, 
with desperate longing, at a cab. She had no shillings 
to fling away, and this is not an age when beauty in 
distress appeals to the heart of man. Helen herself 
would have to pay eighteenpence to get across Troy. 



ii. 

Althea's self-esteem sank lower at every step. Her 
skirt, do what she would with it, was becoming draggled. 
Her hat was spoiled. Every omnibus going in the direc- 
tion in which she wished to go was crowded, and she 
could not breathe in a crowd. 

Oh, from what little causes great effects proceed ! The 
fairy fingers of a child may fire a cannon that would have 
made old Jupiter quake to hear his thunder outroared. 

Althea was getting wet, and had no umbrella. There- 



THE DEVIL AT THE GUILDHALL 69 

fore she cried aloud in a voice of wild, Promethean rebel- 
lion against the powers that be. She wanted light, she 
wanted warmth and wealth and beauty all around, she 
wanted leisure to occupy herself with herself, she wanted 
slaves to do her bidding, and to do it silently. In every 
one there is, counteracting the desire for self-preservation, 
an innate longing for the poison that would destroy, and 
she was no exception to the rule. Nor did she strive to 
quell her longing. She did not feel the comic element 
in it. 

The seriousness of her nature sent the veriest trifles 
down to the depth of tragedy, and connected them with 
the sternest issues of life. She never laughed at any- 
thing. Had she committed murder, had she been dis- 
figured by the small-pox, she could not have come nearer 
despair. The gloom of her mind reacted on her physi- 
cally, and she became conscious of the most intense 
weariness. 

She was on the point of giving up her purpose and 
returning home, when it struck her with the force of an 
old conviction renewed by circumstance, that what we do 
not do to-day we must inevitably do to-morrow. She 
had no confidence in the future, nor was she in the habit 
of looking to it to help her out of the present. Rather 
she dreaded it as a sort of Pharaoh that would compel 
her, if she did not now make bricks with straw, presently 
to make bricks without it. She did not live by impulse, 
and she despised those who could. She reckoned with 
her taskmaster beforehand, and she perceived that in this 
instance, if she did not work at once, the reckoning would 
go against her. So she set her face resolutely, in spite of 
rain and darkness, towards the goal she had in view. 

It was not driving rain, to whip and sting and inform 



70 STORIES 

her with the spirit of resistance ; it was the heavy lead- 
like fall of rain when there is thunder in the distance. 
It was not the romantic darkness of night in the city, 
but the monotonous, prosaic soaking out of colour in the 
day-time, unrelieved by a single star or by so much as a 
jet of gas in the streets. 

Althea's impatience of the intolerable discomfort of it 
all became so lively that she could not have struggled 
harder with another person in opposition than she did 
with herself. For one brief second, on the opposite edge 
of the road, from a turning that would have led her 
home, she paused. Then she quickened her pace, and 
striking down into a side street, came, after a few 
minutes, to a dingy little jeweller's shop, in the window 
of which a few old coins and musty silver brooches were 
displayed. 

Twice she walked past the door, and could not make 
up her mind to enter it, but the third time, with slow 
and lingering steps, she did so. 

A dwarfed and swarthy man sat working in the 
window. He knew that she had passed. He had an eye 
for beauty. Each time, so soon as she had gone beyond 
him, he lifted his eyes, letting them fall again directly 
she turned round. It was not the first time he had seen 
her. The instant she crossed the threshold, he became 
absorbed in his work. 

A mirror hung upon the wall in front of him, and he 
was thus enabled to watch her movements without 
appearing to do so. 

She seated herself and waited quietly. 
He took no notice of her. 

Becoming impatient, she moved her chair, so that it 
made a noise upon the ground. 



THE DEVIL AT THE GUILDHALL 71 

He raised his eyebrows slightly as he bent still lower 
over the diamond ring on which he was engaged. 

He was determined to hear her voice before he moved, 
and presently he heard it. 

' Is Signor Brunetti at home ? Can I speak to him ? ' 

Brunetti rose leisurely, put the ring into a box with 
great deliberation, settled the nest of cotton wool round 
it, unfastened and folded up the apron that he wore. 
Nervous though she might be, Althea was not altogether 
impatient ; so soon as she felt sure that she had arrested 
his attention, she was soothed rather than irritated by 
watching these manoeuvres. As he came opposite her on 
the other side of the counter, his eyes had a dull gleam 
in them like some of the jewels that he set. 

4 Giacomo Brunetti is at your service, Madam.'* 

Spite of his ugly diminutive form, the jeweller spoke 
with the graceful action and in the gracious speech of 
one not born in an island where courtesy is held to be 
effeminate. Insensibly she liked his deference. She 
preferred to be called ' Madam ' because it had a more 
euphonious echo than ' Miss.' Homage delicate enough 
not to offend her fastidiousness was always grateful. But 
she was too much taken up with the affair in hand to 
care about prolonging this pleasure. 

* I do not wish to speak here,' she said, as she glanced 
furtively at the window looking to the street. ' Is there 
no private room ? ' 

' Madam does me too great an honour in condescending 
to use it.' 

He drew aside a dusty, red portiere at the other end of 
the shop, and opened a door behind. 

As she paused on the threshold, she was struck with 
a sound as of tiny aerial hammers, smiting the air all 



72 STORIES 

round her. It was only the ticking of fifty or sixty 
clocks, clocks of all sizes, shapes, and periods, that 
covered walls and floor. An eight-day clock stood in 
one corner; over the face of it there was engraved in 
brass the legend tempusfugit. Fir cones swung to and 
fro in soft and even undulation. Hobgoblins were cling- 
ing to the end of golden chains, their ruddy cheeks under 
their peaked red heads puffed out with these perpetual 
gymnastics. A cuckoo opened the door of the wooden 
cottage wherein he liyed, and called the quarter just 
above her head ; a silvery chime rang from a silvery 
tower ; a trumpeter in scarlet walked out of a castle 
gate, and, blowing one blast of shrill, cock-like defiance, 
straightway retreated ; two giants, about the height of a 
finger, struck with their clubs the bell of a cathedral 
built for fairies. 

She could not help smiling. 

' What is that ? ' she said, taking the seat he placed 
for her beside a table near the door, in the centre of 
which stood a specimen of goldsmith's work, the dainty 
form of which was obvious even to eyes so inexperienced 
as hers. 

The goldsmith shrugged his shoulders. * You are 
pleased ? ' 

' I have never seen anything more beautiful. But I do 
not understand the design.' 

Brunetti laughed noiselessly. 

' It is but an imitation. And yet in some sort it comes 
straight from the hands of the great master of our craft 
and of other crafts besides ours. It is of the same age. 
Let him describe it in his own words.' 

So saying, Brunetti unlocked a drawer in the table, 
and took out a silver casket, richly chased with Cupids. 



THE DEVIL AT THE GUILDHALL 73 

Within it lay a book bound in ivory, with a carbuncle at 
each of the four corners. The restless light in the stones 
flashed hither and thither as he held it. It seemed to 
open of itself at the place that he wanted, for he began 
to read aloud at once. ' Agreeable to the account already 
given of the model, I had represented the sea and the 
earth both in a sitting posture, the legs of one placed 
between those of the other, as certain arms of the sea 
enter the land, and certain necks of the land jut out into 
the sea. The manner in which I designed them was as 
follows : I put a trident into the right hand of the 
figure that represented the sea, and in the left a bark of 
exquisite workmanship, which was to hold the salt ; under 
this figure were its four sea-horses, the form of which in 
the breast and forefeet resembled that of a horse, and all 
the hind part from the middle that of a fish ; the fishes' 
tails were entwined with each other in a manner very 
pleasing to the eye, and the whole group was placed in a 
striking attitude. This figure was surrounded by a 
variety of fishes of different species and other sea animals. 
The undulation of the water was properly exhibited, and 
likewise enamelled with its true colours. The earth I 
represented by a beautiful female figure holding a cornu- 
copia in her hand, entirely naked, like the male figure ; 
in her left hand she held a little temple, the architecture 
of the Ionic order and the workmanship very nice ; this 
was intended to put the pepper in. Under this female 
figure I exhibited most of the forest animals which the 
earth produces, and the rocks I partly enamelled and 
partly left in gold. I then fixed the work on a base of 
black ebony of a proper thickness ; and then I placed 
four golden figures in more than mezzo-relievo ; these 
were intended to represent Morning, Noon, Evening, and 



74 STORIES 

Night. There were also four other figures of the four 
principal winds, of the same size, the workmanship and 
enamel of which were elegant to the last degree/ 

Brunetti turned back to the title-page, and showed 
Althea the portrait of Benvenuto Cellini. 

There was something inexpressibly congenial to her in 
the mobile, mischievous face of the artist, as he looked 
back over his shoulder out of the wild age of the Renais- 
sance, out of those fathomless depths of humanity which, 
to us, appear almost inhuman. She drew the salt-cellar 
towards her, and let her fingers rest upon the head of 
Night. She was in touch with all the brilliant Court 
that once had sat at table and applauded. She saw the 
King, magnificent and debonnair, the splendid Lords and 
Ladies in bright apparel. She revelled in the new fancy- 
ing of the boundless luxury and pride that could employ 
the foremost genius of its time to design its meanest 
utensils. 

* Delightful ! ' she said involuntarily. 

'And yet the man was a perfect devil,' observed 
Brunetti. 

She shrank at the sound of the word. 

Again, as he glanced up at her, those eyes flashed the 
hard gleaming of a gem. She wished she had not left 
the shop. The thought recalled to her the business about 
which she had come. She unclasped a bracelet that she 
was wearing and held it towards him. 

' I want to dispose of that,' she said shortly. ' How 
much would you give me for it ? ' 

He took the bracelet in his hand, and examined it 
closely. It was made of gold, where the band was 
broadest four stones were set an emerald, a ruby, an 
opal, a sapphire. 



THE DEVIL AT THE GUILDHALL 75 

4 1 have been told they make a word, 1 she said, ' but I 
do not know what it is.' 

4 An , an r, an o, an ?, the word is "E/>o>5,' x he said 
promptly. 

4 What does that mean ?' 

4 1 cannot tell you. 1 

Again she did not like his manner. 

4 You knew the word/ she said. 

4 It is often given us to engrave, but we are poor, 
unlearned artisans. The letter of it for us, the spirit 
for those we serve ! ' 

4 How much is it worth ? ' she repeated. 

4 Nothing at all.' 

4 You will not take it then ? ' she spoke with some 
eagerness. 

He touched the stones one by one thoughtfully, and 
seemed to pause. 

4 The stones are not of any value. All I can do is to 
weigh it and give you the worth of the gold which I 
could melt and use." 

4 Weigh it ! ' she said, with an imperious gesture. 

He fetched a pair of scales, and did so cautiously twice 
over. 

4 1 will allow you 5 for this bracelet just as it is. 1 

She was disappointed but would not show it. 4 Madam 
desires to exchange it for some other ornament, doubt- 
less? 1 he inquired. 

4 1 do not want to exchange the bracelet for another. I 
want the money. 1 

4 In that case I regret to be obliged to tell Madam that 
I can only have the pleasure of offering her four pound 
ten shillings. 1 

1 Love. * i 



76 STORIES 

' Very well. Give me the money at once/ 

The goldsmith appeared surprised. He crossed to the 
other side of the apartment, and turning his back on her, 
opened a tall desk that stood in one corner, and began to 
rummage among the contents. 

' The room is very hot,' she said to herself, and rising 
noiselessly, she set the door half open, returning to her 
seat with stealthy, fast steps so that Brunetti did not 
perceive she had stirred. 

Some one else did, however. 

This was a young man who had entered the shop a 
few minutes before, and was waiting until such time 
as the master of it should reveal himself. The sudden 
opening of the door, as he leant over the counter 
examining some trinket he had a mind to buy, shot through 
a ray of sunshine that startled him. Following the ray 
in its passage, his eyes fell on the mirror, and there he 
saw reflected the girl whom he had only a short time since 
admired at the Guildhall. 

The rain had ceased as suddenly as it began, and the 
poignant light of the sun, when it is nearing the West, 
smote straight upon her. She appeared to him like the 
pale, resplendent vision of warfare. Her shadowy hair 
was yet more beautiful against the crimson wings of cloud 
behind. Her deep eyes caused to glow in him the high 
enthusiasm of one who sees in strife only the making of 
victory. Quickly she fastened the bracelet upon her 
slender wrist, and raised it reverently, as it were, to her 
lips ; more quickly still she unclasped it and laid it on 
the table before her. 

The master of the shop returned, and counted down 
some money. The young man waiting was offended. 
Between deformity and beauty what a strange link was 



THE DEVIL AT THE GUILDHALL 77 

this ! Nevertheless he watched the mirror with unfailing 
interest. The girl dropped the money, coin by coin, into 
her purse, and rose to go. As she did so, the man spoke, 
clutching his bargain. 

4 You have bought the knowledge. Shall I tell you the 
meaning of the word now ? ' 

She shook her head. 

He laid his hand upon her arm. 

Perhaps the spectator of the scene could hardly have 
explained to any one why this action sent through him a 
shudder of disgust. 

' Hullo ! ' he shouted. ' Is anybody coming ? ' 

The vision broke and fled on either side of the mirror. 

Althea swept past him, the faintest flush upon her 
cheek. 

The little goldsmith stood behind the counter, and 
made a courteous gesture of the head that would not 
have misbecome a noble. 

4 Give me the bracelet that lady sold to you,' he said 
impetuously. 

8 What bracelet ? ' asked the goldsmith, feigning 
astonishment. 

* The bracelet that is lying on the table in there/ 

He pointed to the door. 

6 My kind patron is in this instance mistaken. I did 
not buy it from the lady. It is a very valuable piece 
of work. I was but showing her a detail of the con- 
struction if, for one moment, the gentleman will permit 
me.' 

He sidled towards the door, but his interlocutor was 
too swift for him, and laid hands on the bracelet before 
he had crossed the threshold. 

' There ! ' said he, contemptuously throwing a cheque 



78 STORIES 

already signed upon the counter. ' Good afternoon, don't 
tell more lies than you can help ! ' 

He hurried out of the shop. 

The goldsmith looked at the cheque, saw that it was 
one for a hundred pounds, payable at Child's Bank, and 
chuckled. 1 

1 This story was never finished, nor is there any clue as to how the 
author meant to develop it. 



THE FRIENDLY FOE 79 



[1898] 
THE FRIENDLY FOE l 

NOT for a moment, 1 said the Count, with great dignity, 
' did I suppose so.' 

I thanked him. 

He pressed my hand. 

There followed one of those awkward pauses which 
are apt to follow on a supreme moment. He had just 
informed me that he did not for an instant suppose that 
I preferred any consideration before honour. The wind 
was driving the rain against my window as if it were a 
human thing that must be chased from the wide world 
without. The flames were leaping up the chimney, as 
if they owned some kinship with the wind and were 
rushing to meet him. I wanted to be alone, to enjoy 
the uproar in peace. How to get rid of the Count I 
did not know. Why the Count insisted on staying, 
I did not know. As he was going to shoot me, or I was 
going to shoot him, at eight o'clock the next morning, 
it seemed to me that this was waste of time ; but you 
cannot make a remark of that kind to a guest, and he 
happened to be in my room. 

4 Let me ask you one thing ! ' said the Count. ' You 
are a generous enemy. Though not in your first youth, 
you are younger than I am, and you have not been out 
before. I would not take you at a disadvantage. Do 
you believe in the soul's future ? 

1 From The Cornhill, March 1898. 



80 STORIES 

'A most unnecessary question,' I said lightly. 'In 
a few hours one of us will have answered it for good 
and all.' 

He frowned. 

' You do not believe in it. I am reduced to a most 
unpleasant extremity. Unless you can reassure me upon 
this point, it is impossible for me to fight you. Unless 
I fight you, I am dishonoured." 

'Why should it be impossible? 1 I asked. But that 
the Count was by birth and breeding a perfect gentle- 
man I might have suspected his courage. 

'It gives me an unfair advantage,' he said, gazing 
steadily at me out of his deep-set eyes. 'You fight, 
believing death is death. I fight, believing death is 
birth. I know something of your chivalrous nature. If 
I kill you, I, in my own opinion, set free a soul. If you 
kill me, you, in your own opinion, commit murder. I 
would not have you tortured in after life by this re- 
flection. Once more I tell you, it is impossible for me 
to fight unless you give me some assurance. Once more 
I ask you, Do you believe in eternal life ? ' 

4 1 am fully sensible of your kind consideration for my 
feelings, but permit me to observe that I do not see 
what right you have to ask that question. 1 

' You decline to answer it ? ' 

' I do: 

' Then our affair is settled. I also decline to fight.' 

He bowed, and walked towards the door. 

' Stay ! ' I cried. ' What are you going to do ? ' 

He laid his hand upon a pistol. 

'No,' I said. 'Why?' 

' You leave me no other choice.' 

It was absurd of me to object to his shooting himself 



THE FRIENDLY FOE 81 

when I had no objection whatever to shooting him with 
my own hand if I could. But it was just this one phrase 
If I could that made a difference. The alternative was 
too cold-blooded ; I felt bound to prevent it. 

'Could it not be arranged ?' I spoke nervously, 

only to gain time, in the confusion of the moment. 

' You are not the man I took you for,' he said. 

This time he did not bow as he turned towards the 
door. 

' You do not seem to be aware,' I remarked, ' that you 
are exposing me to a sense of blood-guiltiness far more 
onerous than that which you deprecate. If I am to 
be a murderer, at least allow me to feel that I did the 
deed myself, not that I compelled some one else to do it. 
Do you think that you are treating me fairly ?. You put 
a premium upon lies. You leave no other course open 
to me. By all that is held most sacred I swear to you 
that I believe in eternal life.' 

And rising, I laid my hand upon my heart. 

' Sir,' said the Count sternly, ' would you die with 
a falsehood on your lip ? You do not believe it ? ' 

' No,' I said, ' I do not. I merely wished to show you 
to what extremes you are driving me. But you are 
right. Between gentlemen this sort of thing is a mistake, 
even in jest. You do not leave this room till you have 
promised to fight me to-morrow!' and I threw myself 
across the door. I was the younger and the stronger 
man. 

With perfect gravity the Count sat down in an 
armchair. The wind was howling more loudly than 
before ; the flames had sunk lower. 

I became conscious of the absurdity of the situation. 
Nothing short of flood, fire, or earthquake could put an 



82 STORIES 

end to it in a fitting manner. There we were bound to 
stay till we died of starvation, unless one or the other 
would compromise his dignity. As the ilittle I knew of 
the Count made me feel certain that nothing would 
ever induce him to compromise his, I compromised 
mine. 

* Count/ I said, ' this is a ridiculous position for both 
of us. My presence causes you an intolerable ffne 9 and 
yours, the whole night through, would scarcely be agree- 
able to me. Let us consider the thing dispassionately. 
You will not fight me because I do not hold an opinion 
which you, rightly or wrongly, hold to be necessary for 
my future happiness, if I live ; i.e. you do not object to 
kill me, because you think no one can die, but you do 
object to poison the remainder of my mortal existence. 
If you do not fight me, you will shoot yourself, for you 
would be unable to survive your honour. That is the 
case on your side. Now for mine. I have an instinctive 
dislike of suicide, either for myself or for any one else 
whom I respect. It may be a mere prejudice, but so it 
is. If, therefore, you blow out your brains, it will 
seriously affect my peace of mind, inasmuch as I shall 
consider myself to a certain extent responsible. But 
fair fight is another thing altogether. It is now five 
o'clock. According to our agreement we meet at eight 
to-morrow morning. I shall need at least five hours" 
sleep beforehand, or I shall not take steady aim. Allow- 
ing full time to dress, breakfast, and get to the rendez- 
vous, I ought not to go to bed later than two. Between 
five o'clock this evening and two to-morrow morning 
there are nine hours. Now, these nine hours I will 
promise you, on my word of honour as a gentleman, 
to spend on the investigation of a question that does 



THE FRIENDLY FOE 88 

not interest me in the least, and on which, but for you, 
I should never, in the whole course of my life, have 
spent nine minutes if you, on your part, will promise 
to meet me at eight to-morrow. If, by that time, I can 
answer your question in the affirmative and I know 
already that it is not by words alone that you will judge 
whether I speak the truth well and good ! Let us 
fight ! Whichever way the duel ends, you will have the 
satisfaction of thinking that I have gained a belief which, 
but for you, I should not even have wished to gain. If, 
on the contrary, I retain my present scepticism, we will 
shoot ourselves instead of each other. Voila tout! It 
is a pity : the country will lose two possible defenders 
instead of one, but I do not see how that can be helped. 
Is it a bond ? Will you meet me at eight ? 

The Count rose from his chair : his eyes shone. 

* I have the greatest pleasure in accepting your gener- 
ous proposal, 1 he replied, 4 more especially as I am quite 
convinced that no one could study this question for 
nine hours without answering it as I myself have been 
taught to answer it. As for the method of study, that of 
course must be left to yourself. The "Phaidon" of 
Plato 1 

4 No,' I said carelessly, moving away from the door to 
let him pass. * My tastes are not philosophical. I shall 
sit by the fire for three hours, and think it over in my 
own way. (I dare not engage that my mind will not 
wander to other subjects. La Girouette danced adorably 
in the ballet last night.) Then, if you have no objection, 
I shall dine out and go to a ball, the invitation for 
which I accepted some time ago, so that my absence 
would be remarked : and, when the clock strikes eleven, 
I shall betake myself to my confessor. If serious 



84 STORIES 

reflection, if the sight of the vanities of this world, if the 
consolation of religion, all put together, cannot persuade 
me to believe in the immortality of the soul, it will be 
a hopeless affair indeed; for I am sure nothing else 
could. 1 

The Count sighed. 

' It is a strange way to take, 1 he said ; 6 but let no man 
judge for another. I myself was led to believe by a 
series of events which, to any other than myself, 
would appear almost incredible. I pray that you may 
be rightly directed. In the meantime I wish you good- 
night. I shall not retire to rest before two o'clock.' 
He bowed again and went out. 

When he was gone I threw myself down in the chair 
which he had occupied, that I might enjoy to the full 
the luxury of being alone. The Count's presence had 
become a hideous oppression to me during the last 
quarter of an hour. I had felt as if he would never go 
as if he were a nightmare, as if he were the Old Man 
of the Sea, as if he were a whole crowd of people in 
himself, and made the room stuffy. I ran to the window 
and flung it open ; the wind rushed in and puffed the 
curtains out, and rioted, amongst my books and papers, 
bathing me, body and soul, in freedom. I heaped up 
faggot after faggot, and stirred them into a blaze that 
might have set the chimney on fire. Then, between 
wind and flame, down I sat, according to contract, to 
consider that part of myself which was more subtle than 
either. 

I found it to the full as difficult as I had expected. 
The old arguments were no newer. ' We should like to 
go on living very much. Therefore we think we shall. 
But as we really do not know, we will not die till the 



THE FRIENDLY FOE 85 

last possible moment." They came to little more than 
that, so it seemed. As I was without this strong pre- 
possession in favour of life, I failed to recognise their 
cogency. Besides, to have that man going on for ever ? 
I had a strong prepossession in favour of his extinction, 
even if it necessarily included my own. I loved myself 
less than I hated him. Not that I had any reason to 
hate him. He was everything that he should be, which 
gave a sort of zest to my abhorrence, reduced it to a fine 
ar t made it essential, not a mere accident. Our 
natures were antagonistic. I could have forgiven another 
for murdering me more easily than I could forgive him 
the fact of his existence in the same universe with 
myself. He jarred upon my every nerve. My eyes 
rebelled at the sight of his face, my ears at the sound of 
his voice, the touch of his hand caused an electric shiver 
of repulsion. He annihilated all but the animal part of 
me ; when he was in the room I knew his dog had more 
of a soul than I. And, by the strangest freak of fancy, 
it was this man who, more than any one I ever met, had 
the faculty of conjuring anything like it out of me, who 
insisted not only on my believing it was there, but that 
it would go on being there for ever and ever. 

'No, Count,' I said, as I watched the sparks go up 
the chimney ; 4 keep your immortality to yourself ! I 
would not share it with you for the asking,' and through 
my mind there flashed the old emblems of the transitori- 
ness of life the dream, the shadow, the morning mist, 
the snowflake, the flower of the grass, the bird flying out 
of the darkness, through the lighted hall, into the dark- 
ness again. I was reassured concerning its momentary 
character. 4 And yet,' I said to myself, ' the Count has 
a very strong will. If any man had the power to insist 



86 STORIES 

on living, in defiance of all the rules of Nature, that man 
would be the Count. Perhaps it is his excessive vitality 
which is burdensome to ephemeral creatures like myself. 
It is as if he absorbed their proper part whenever he 
came near them." 

So thinking, I took out my pistols and cleaned them, 
not without a certain pleasure. I had had enough of my 
own society by the time the clock struck eight, and was 
well inclined to seek that of others. 

The dinner to which I was invited was given by 
Princess X., who lived in an apartment on the third floor 
of the Hotel Z. She was going to a dance that night 
the same that I meant to attend and the party before- 
hand would be, she informed me, quite a small one, 
consisting only of myself and a few intimates. It so 
happened that I was rather late. Seeing the door of the 
lift open, I got in. The darkness had prevented me 
from noticing that in one corner there was already 
something that looked like a downy ball of white, with 
a very small head coming out of it. I would fain have 
beaten a retreat, but it was too late ; the porter stepped 
in after me and we began to ascend. 

6 Oh ! ' said the little lady, with a gasp, putting out a 
small white hand to catch hold of me. I am afraid 
that I did not attempt to reassure her. It was all over 
in a minute. 

The lift stopped. I made way for her to get out. 
She turned round to me, smiling and blushing. 

' I beg your pardon, 1 she said, ' I never have been in 
one before. It is so unlike anything else when you are 
not accustomed. I suppose you also are going to dine 
with Marraine ? ' 

'I have not the pleasure of calling the Princess X. 



THE FRIENDLY FOE 87 

Marraine,' I replied; 'but if she has the pleasure of 
calling you her godchild, we are bound for one destina- 
tion. Allow me to ring the bell.'* 

As she passed into the hall, the clearer light shone, 
for a moment, on her soft brown curls, and glanced, 
reflected, in her mirthful eyes. 

We entered the drawing-room almost at the same 
moment. As the Princess rose to make us acquainted, 
she laughed again and said quickly : 

' No, no, Marraine, it is too late. I was introduced by 
the lift, as the greatest coward this gentleman has ever 
known, quite three minutes ago.' 

The Princess took her hand. 

'Well! well! 1 she said, 'was there ever such a 
naughty debutante ? It is a pity, as you took each other 
up so pleasantly, that you cannot take each other down 
also. But there I must interfere.' 

' It is cruel of you, Princess. Fate was much kinder. 
But,' I turned to the younger lady ' may I presume 
to ask your hand for the first dance?' 

' You may,' she said merrily ; ' but I hope you know 
what you are asking. It is the first dance that I have 
ever given any one.' 

' Where is your father ? ' asked the Princess. 

' Kept at home by a letter from the Prime Minister. 
He begs that you will excuse him ; for nothing else 
would he have given up this party. He is coming later 
on, to take me home. I hope he will not come till very 
late indeed, if that is all he cares for. He did not feel 
sure that it was meet for me to go out to dinner alone, 
even to the house of my godmother, but he said that he 
did not want to disappoint you, and I think,' she put 
in candidly, though very demurely, ' he did not want to 



88 STORIES 

disappoint me either. I should have died of vexation if 
I had had to stay at home.' 
The Princess laughed. 

' That makes it serious. And seriously, my love, you 
are quite right. Unless one is dead or dying, one should 
keep one's dinner engagement. And, while I think of 
it,' she added, addressing herself to me, ' I must 
positively engage you to dine with me to-morrow. I 
expect the Prime Minister, and I cannot be left alone to 
entertain him. Eight o'clock, do you hear? He will 
have to leave early, so mind you are in time.' 

4 To hear is to obey. Unless I am dead or dying I 
will keep my dinner engagement.' 

4 1 think I am sure of you then. You never looked 
better in your life.' 

' Dinner is on the table,' said the Princess's butler. 
The ground floor of the hotel had been engaged for 
the dance. The fiddles were already striking up when I, 
in company with the other gentlemen of the party, 
entered the room. My promised partner was standing 
beside the Princess, busily inscribing the names of 
various aspirants on her card. I thought she might be 
better employed inscribing mine, and said so. She gave 
me the card, and I availed myself of the vacant spaces 
that appeared on it. 

' Quick, quick ! ' she cried. ' There is the music ! 
Are you not longing to be off?' 

Dancing varies inversely as the character of the lady 
who dances. With her it resembled nothing so much as 
flight. She scarcely seemed to touch the ground with 
her feet, she was as light as one of the feathers on her 
cloak. The music mounted to my brain as we went 
whirling round and round together. I felt as though I 



THE FRIENDLY FOE 89 

were a spirit chasing another spirit. I forgot everything 
else, and when it stopped I could not have told whether 
we had been dancing hours or moments. I had begun 
in another state of existence. 

4 Ah ! ' she said, ' your step goes well with mine/ 

How I filled up the intervals when I was not dancing 
with her I do not know. Once, while we were standing 
together in the recess formed by a window, a great moth 
flew in and made for the lighted candelabra over our heads. 
There was a quick change in her. 

' O save it, save it ! ' she cried, clasping her little hands 
together in wild distress. 

I caught the creature in my handkerchief and let it 
out again. When I returned to her she was pale and 
trembling. 

' He is quite safe, 1 I said. ' Do not be unhappy ! 
After all, what would it matter if he did burn himself? 
In proportion, he would have lived much longer than we 
shall.' 

' No, no," she said. ' We live for ever.' 

Her words sent a thrill of recollection through me. 

' Do we ? ' I said in a gentler voice. ' If you tell me 
so, I will believe it.' 

4 Why yes, of course we do ! ' she said. ' I never heard 
any one say that we did not. Shall we finish this 
dance ? ' 

It was the last opportunity that I had of talking to 
her. I think I was engaged in conversation with some 
one else when, later on in the evening, I heard her 
pleading tones close behind me. 

' Only one more ! O let me stay for only one 
more ! ' 

In an instant she was at my side. 



90 STORIES 

' I must go," she said. ' I must have one more dance 
before I go. I do not know where my partner is.' 

It was irresistible, though I had a humiliating sensation 
that she asked me only because there was no one else at 
hand. She broke away just when the delirium of enjoy- 
ment was at its height. 

' No longer ! ' she cried. ' Not a moment more ! That 
was perfect. Good- night ! ' 

She made me a tricksy sign of adieu with her fan, 
and tripped away ; she could hardly help dancing as 
she moved. 

I stood bewildered for a moment, then rushed to the 
door that I might see her as she passed to her carriage. 
She was leaning on her father's arm as she went down 
the steps. The link-man raised his torch to guide them, 
and a sudden glare of light showed me the features of 
the Count. 

I drew a long breath. 

'It is as well that I am going to fight that man 
to-morrow,' I thought. ' If not, he would inevitably 
have been my father-in-law. In the first place, I have 
not enough to marry upon ; in the second, we should 
have made the little thing miserable between us.' 

The wind detached a fragment of her swansdown cloak. 
I stooped and picked it up. 

Practically speaking, the disposition of my time had 
been in no degree influenced by the Count's grotesque 
requirement. I had intended all along to stay at home 
until eight o'clock, to dine with the Princess X., to go to 
the dance, and to visit the dearest friend that I had in 
the world. He was a Dominican monk, of great learning 
and acuteness, resident in the monastery of S. Petrox, 
about half a mile off. We were old schoolfellows, and, 



THE FRIENDLY FOE 91 

though our ways of life were very different, he had never 
lost the ascendency over me which, as a boy, he had 
understood how to gain. 

He was busy reading when I entered his cell ; he laid 
his finger on his lips, to show me that I must not 
interrupt him. 

After a long pause, he closed the great volume 
reverently and asked me what I wanted at that time 
of night. 

' I want an immortal soul."* 

' Curious ! ' he remarked, pushing his spectacles up on 
his forehead, 'I have just been studying the question 
of the soul.' 

4 Well ! what is the result of your investigations ? * 

4 My friend, 1 returned the Dominican, 4 what would it 
avail were I to tell you ? I know your mind upon these 
subjects/ 

4 That is more than I know myself, then more than 
I should ever have wished to know but for a strange 
occurrence. 1 

I told him all the circumstances of my conversation with 
the Count, not mentioning his name, of course. 

4 You have helped me at many a difficult pass before 
now, 1 I said. 4 Help me again. Pour out the contents 
of that great volume upon my head ! " 

4 You would be as wise as you were before. I know 
you, amico mio. You own no teacher save experience. 1 

4 What is the experience that can make a man believe 
in that of which he has none? Tell me, that I may 
seek it. 1 

* Is there any one in the world of whom you are really 
fond P 1 said the Dominican. 

For the fraction of a second I hesitated. 



92 STORIES 

4 Forgive the question ! It is of no importance. 
There is one way by which you can be brought to 
believe, but it may cost you your life. Are you willing 
to risk it ? ' 

' I am bound to preserve my life until to-morrow 
morning.' 

' So far I can guarantee it, if you are careful to obey. 
For the rest, you are indifferent ? Well and good ! 
Understand that I, on my part, am running a great 
risk for your sake. If what I am about to do were 
to become known, I should incur excommunication. 
My fellow-churchmen would say that I was endangering 
a soul within the fold to save one that is without. So 
be it ! You are my friend. You are, I know, an 
actor of some experience. Do you think that you could 
personate me ? ' 

'With your instructions, I have no doubt that I 
could.' 

He rose, and took from his cupboard a priest's robe 
and a little cap. 

6 You have just recovered from an illness ; you must 
wear a beretta. You are close shaven ; that is well. 
Under the beretta your hair is not too long. Be sure 
to recollect that you are still subject to cold that you 
must on no account take it off. Before we go any 
further, oblige me by taking an oath a solemn oath. 
First, that, whatever may happen, you will attempt no 
resistance; secondly, that you will never reveal the 
names of those amongst whom I am going to send you, 
nor any of the circumstances which you may be called 
upon to witness. Before you swear, reflect ! The posses- 
sion of a secret of this kind implies considerable danger. 
Is it worth the risk ? ' 



THE FRIENDLY FOE 93 

' A strange question for one of your calling to ask ! ' I 
retorted ; ' I am no priest, but I think it is.' 

' Is there anything in the world that you hold sacred ? ' 
said the Dominican. 

I drew the bit of swansdown from its resting-place, 
profaning the one true sentiment that was in me with a 
laugh. As for my friend, he never even smiled. 

'That will do!' he said. 'Swear upon that!' I 
did so. 

'You are now a penitent before me. I have heard 
your confession. I am about to absolve you. Take 
accurate note of everything that I say, and reproduce 
my words, as nearly as you can, when you are called in 
to the death-bed.' 

' You spoke to me as if I were a woman,' I observed, 
when he had finished. 

' You are quite right,' said the monk. ' Now let us 
reverse the parts. Do you absolve me, as if I were a 
woman ! ' 

'I repeated the form of words which he had just gone 
through. 

' Evviva ! ' he said, when I had done. ' You might 
have been born in a cassock.' 

At the same moment I heard the hooting of an owl 
in the garden below. He started, and looked at the 
clock. 

' Late ! ' he said. ' That is the carriage. We have 
not a moment to lose. Let me recommend you to 
keep silence from the time you leave these doors to 
the time when you are set down again. If you say 
a word more than is necessary, I will not answer for 
the consequences. I shall await you here on your re- 
turn. Remember your oath. Then, bending forward 



94 STORIES 

as if he feared the very walls would hear, he added 
in a whisper : 

' Take no refreshment in that house. .' 

He touched the back of a volume of the Via Media 
as he spoke ; part of what had appeared to be the book- 
case sprang open and disclosed a winding stair. Without 
another word, he pointed down it, taking a light to 
show me the way. At the last turn of the steps he 
left me. 

I felt the cold breath of the night lifting my hair. 
Then I was suddenly seized and blindfolded ; whether 
by two or more persons I could not be sure, for I was 
taken by surprise in the darkness. Determined to 
adhere to the prescribed conditions of the adventure, I 
made no sound and I heard a whisper : 

4 No need to gag him, he has his cue.' 

In a moment strong arms had lifted me and were 
carrying me along over the grass, as I judged, for 
there was no ring of footsteps. I was let down gently 
enough upon the seat of a carriage, and away we went 
like the wind. How long it took, which way we went, 
whether there was any one else in the carriage, I have 
no idea. A steady hand must have held the reins. We 
were going at a breakneck pace, yet we never encountered 
the smallest obstacle, nor did I even feel a jolt. Thus 
was I whirled along through the night, as little able to 
see as if I had been sleeping. 

We stopped at last. I was helped out, and guided, 
as I judged by the mouldy smell, into some cellar or 
disused passage, at the end of which there were steps. 
Presumably, they led up into a house, for when we trod 
on level ground again, the atmosphere was dry and 
warm, and, to my great surprise, I heard the tones of a 



THE FRIENDLY FOE 95 

piano in the distance, familiar tones at the sound of 
which my heart beat, though it was a minute before I 
recollected that I had heard them last as I was leaving 
the ball-room. We went up many stairs, down many more 
and up again, the sounds growing more and more distinct 
as we advanced. They ceased abruptly, the bandage 
was removed, and I found myself standing alone in a 
tiny room, lit by one small red-shaded lamp. I tried 
the door, but it was locked ; mysterious, for I had heard 
no turning of the key ! A piano stood open, but there 
was no music upon it. A book lay on the sofa, as if 
some one had just tossed it down there. On the outer 
side there was no window at all ; in the other wall was 
a recess, formed by three little windows of painted glass, 
through which a light from below shone dimly, by way 
of the Madonna and two attendant saints. 

I waited a long time, but no one came. The stillness 
grew oppressive. I threw myself on the sofa, and tried 
to read, but the air was heated and magnetic it seemed 
to thrust itself between me and the lines. I looked at 
the first page of the book to see if there were any indica- 
tion of the owner, but there was none. I then tried 
several others, all with the same ill success. Clearly they 
had been read with much affection, for they were often 
marked with a pencil : but there was never any name in 
the beginning, and from one or two of them the fly-leaf 
had been removed. 

On a sudden the light reflected from below went out ; 
the saints became indistinguishable. 

My curiosity got the better of me. I resolved, come 
what would, to open one of those windows; to have 
nothing but a pane of glass between me and the unknown 
was too strong a temptation. I pressed with all my 



96 STORIES 

strength against the woodwork of the centre one : there 
was a slight, a very slight, yielding ; it seemed to give 
on darkness. I moved the lamp cautiously, so as to 
concentrate its beams upon the chink, and pressed again. 
For an instant I caught sight of the dark figure of a 
man, bending over a table, in front of a fireplace, far 
down below. Then the window gave an ominous creak. 
I closed it, and sat breathless. Whether the man had 
heard ? I inclined to think that he must have. Presently 
there were footsteps outside. 

4 In half an hour, 1 said a man's voice. 

' In half an hour,' said a woman's. 

It was music echoing a discord. The key turned in 
the lock ; the little lady of the swansdown cloak entered, 
and shut the door behind her. I cannot now conceive 
my feelings at that moment ; but I had just presence of 
mind enough to recollect that I should be turned out if 
I did not sustain my part. We saluted each other in 
the usual way, and she knelt down before me. For the 
first time it darted through my mind that she was 
going to make a confession and to me? A strong 
repugnance to hear overcame every other consideration. 
If I could mock that creature, I must be a fiend in- 
carnate. Yet how, with safety to my friend and to 
myself prevent her? I took a step backward. She 
raised her eyes appealingly. I frowned and turned 
away. 

'This is some jest,' I said sternly. 'I was sent for to 
attend a deathbed. Take me to the penitent.' 

* It is I that am dying.' 

' Are you mad ? ' I demanded. ' Many a time 
have I seen death ; never with eyes and cheeks like 
these.' 



THE FRIENDLY FOE 97 

4 He that has not an hour to live is no nearer death 
than I am. I shall not see the sun rise to-morrow." 1 

She spoke with such conviction that I staggered back, 
reeling under the shock. 

4 You are ill,' she said solicitously, rising from her 
knees. ' Holy Virgin, what shall I do ? Help ! help ! ' 

I summoned all the strength of mind that I possessed. 

'Do not call, my daughter! It is only a passing 
weakness. The way hither is long. I am but lately 
recovered from a severe indisposition. Let me rest !' 

Some excuse of this kind I think I made. Whatever 
it was, she accepted it, and stood watching me for a 
minute or two. Then, seeing that I was better, she 
said, with great gentleness : 

'It was not good to send you out on such a wild 
night as this. You should have stayed at home and 
slept. It grieved me so to see that I have made you 
ill. I did not think of this when I asked my father to 
send for a priest. I have hardly ever been allowed one, 
but you are very like some one that I have seen I 
cannot feel as if you were a stranger. I could believe 
anything that you said I know I could. Are you glad 
to think how greatly it comforts me to see you ? ' 

* I would give the remnant of my years, if that could 
be of any service to you,' I said, striving not to say it 
too fervently. 

She was quiet for a moment ; then, drawing a chair 
close to the sofa on which I had fallen back, she 
resumed. 

' I will not weary you with making a long confession. 
I think I can say what is on my mind better like this. 
I trust your face. 1 

She hesitated. 

(r 



98 STORIES 

'It is a dreadful thing. At first I thought I dared 
not say it to any one. It was wicked of me even to 
think it.' 

She hid her face. 

' But you, you are older ; you may not have very long 
to live either. Things look so different then. If you 
said it, I could believe it. I know I could.' 

Once more she hesitated. The wind had risen again 
in all its fury, and was howling outside the window. 

' Satan tempts us,' she said. 

' Yes,' I said. < Satan tempts us.' 

She turned her face away, clasped her hands tightly, 
and went on. 

' I do not know how to say it. It was like this. I 
was at a dance, and very happy. I think I never was 
so happy in my life. I never danced with any one 
before. There came a moth, and it was going to burn 
itself. He saved it; and then he said, "What matter 
if it had died, for we were all like moths." There is 
nothing more.' 

'He told a lie.' 

' I knew it, I knew it,' she said. ' Say that ! Look at 
me as you say it ! Say : " I believe we live again." ' 

6 1 believe that we live again,' I said solemnly, answer- 
ing her gaze with perfect truthfulness. The anguish 
passed away; the strained hands loosened. She bent 
her head and closed her eyes. When she spoke again, 
she said in a whisper : ' It is all well. How good of you 
to come ! He said he would believe it, if I told him. I 
could not tell him. He made me feel as if I did not 
know. If I could only will you say this to him for me ? 
Ah, no ! I forgot. You must never tell any one.' 

4 You shall tell him yourself.' 



THE FRIENDLY FOE 99 

A light, first of wonder, then of the happiness of those 
who see a vision, dawned in her eyes. I was still half in 
heaven with her, when the Count entered. She told him 
that I had been ill that I ought not to have come out 
at night. 

' I am greatly obliged to you for your kindness.' The 
Count addressed himself to me with a graceful, though 
condescending bow. 'The Abbot is informed of the 
reasons for which secrecy is imperative,"* he continued. 
I feel sure that you will hold me excused. But we 
must not suffer you to go hence without a draught of 
wine.' His daughter went before him. 
- I followed, down the dark staircase into a hall the 
same evidently as that into which I had peeped from the 
window of the boudoir. It lay in darkness now ; even 
the fire burned low. The Count carried a lamp. 

Strange figures, stranger faces, met my eyes. Goat- 
footed creatures were driving airy chariots over my head ; 
Cupids and Fauns and things half man, half beast or 
bird, were at their wildest revelry around me. Here 
stood rhomme arme, his visor up, nothing but vacant 
blackness behind it. There, two colossal heads, man and 
woman, leered at each other. Garlands of carved fruit 
and flowers, amidst which squirrels, monkeys, and little 
owls were playing, wreathed pillar and post of the stair- 
case by which we had come down. No two were 
alike. 

In front of the fire stood a table ; on it a tray of 
polished brass, holding a flask of fine Venetian work and 
some glasses. 

He seated himself in silence. I did the same. 

A French clock on its bracket struck, or rather tolled, 
an hour after midnight. 



100 STORIES 

Lifting his dark eyes, the Count fixed them steadily 
upon me. 

I feared his recognition too much to meet them, for he 
and I had looked each other in the eyes once before. It 
is impossible to mask the soul when she is sitting at her 
open windows. But he had no suspicion. 

' In the course of your life, 1 he said, c you have, no 
doubt, seen many strange things. 1 * He waved his head in 
the direction of the grotesques. ' Did you ever, if I may 
ask the question, see a house furnished in this way 
before?' 

Never.' 

c Could it have been so furnished by any reasonable 
man?' 

' A poet ? ' I said tentatively. 

The Count shrugged his shoulders. 

' There are no poets in the family.' 

I kept silence. 

' The man shot himself. His son built the little room 
up above. It has no window to the front. There his 
wife lived until her death.' 

He glanced up at a portrait on the wall, the features 
of which strongly resembled his own. 

' No one knows what became of him.' 

As he spoke, he pulled a silk tassel which hung by a 
long slender cord from the ceiling. A thousand lights 
flashed out. The heart of every carven rose became a 
heart of flame, stars glowed among the vine and pome- 
granate, eyes of fire shone from the grotesque heads. 
The lights, the faces, the flowers and fruit all round 
wreathed themselves into the first letter of the name of 
my enemy. Everywhere it was written. A wave of fresh, 
vigorous hate surged over me. 



THE FRIENDLY FOE 101 

* Have you ever seen an apartment lighted in this 
manner before ? ' he asked. 

' I must confess that it appears to me fantastic, though 
very beautiful.' 

' We were not speaking of the effect, I think. It is 
unusual ? ' 

4 Certainly.' 

'The invention is due to the father of the present 
owner. He fell by his own hand. 1 

' And the present owner ? ' I said. 

The Count's expression changed. He looked at his 
daughter, who had seated herself on a low couch by the 
fire. She did not appear to be listening ; but he lowered 
his voice. 

* The present owner has one child now in the flower 
of her youth. She does not know the dreadful fate of her 
ancestors. She has only been told thus much that at 
the age of seventeen she will pass into another life. She 
feels no fear, since she is going to the mother whom, as a 
babe, she lost. Of the exact moment and manner of her 
death she has been kept in ignorance until within an hour 
of it. Nothing has frightened, nothing has distressed 
her. Pure and unspotted as she came to him, he that 
best loves her desires to send her back to that heaven 
which is more real to her than earth, to that heaven 
which will save her from knowing as, but for him, she 
must infallibly know that this earth is a hell. Is he 
right?' 

' No,' I said, with a certain assurance. ' He is mad.' 
The Count started ; but on the instant he was calm 
again. 

'That makes the fifth generation,' he said, as if to 
himself. ' In the eyes of ignorant persons he may be 



102 STORIES 

mad perhaps. Is it not the truest sanity to prevent these 
horrors from culminating in a sixth ? I cannot but 
approve his judgment." 

He turned towards the girl. She raised her face to his. 
I saw that it was white as marble. I thought that she 
was going to faint. Instinctively I seized the flask and 
poured out some of the wine. 

'Well thought of!' said the Count. 'The Church 
however, comes first even before a lady/ 

He made a sign to her. 

' You need refreshment more than I,' she said, offering 
me the glass. 

I took it from her, not thinking what I did. And yet 
some word of hers recalled a word spoken before. 

'Refreshment!' 

Take no refreshment in that house. 

I had but tasted. For the moment my senses still were 
clear. I saw the Count sprinkle drops from a phial on to 
his handkerchief and give it to the little lady. I saw her 
fall back softly on the couch. 

Her father watched with rapt attention. The swans- 
down cloak that she had worn was hanging over the back 
of a chair. Suddenly he tore a bit of it away and held 
it to her lips. The light down never stirred. 

I thought that I called out, but heard no sound. 
There was a weight of lead upon my eyes the air was 
thick with fog. I fought with might and main to get to 
her. I could not stir a step. I could not even see her now. 

Making one last effort to move, I missed my footing 
and fell fell, as it seemed, into a yawning gulf that 
opened suddenly before me fell down and down and 
down into the fathomless depths of that slumber wherein 
we spend the half of existence. 



THE FRIENDLY FOE 103 

But Lethe had been meted out unevenly ; to her the 
sleep that knew no earthly morrow to me the sleep that 
ended in a few hours, leaving the rest of life a dream. 

On the day after, I met the Count at eight o'clock in 
the morning. At eight o'clock in the evening I kept my 
dinner engagement. 



104 STORIES 



[1898] 
THE LADY ON THE HILLSIDE 1 

Meadows, tho' your flowers are bright, 

Tho' you laugh, your laugh is light, 

For the maid is rarer far 

Than your sweetest garlands are. MELEAGER. 

6 FOR my part, 1 said Michele, ' I do not admire the 
Duchess of Milan's daughters.' 

' Whose daughters do you admire ? ' asked one of the 
others. ' Not Heaven's own, I think ! I would not be 
the woman that you wed. Were she as fair as Venus, 
you would cast her very perfection in her teeth, because 
it left you nothing to wish for."* 

6 You speak truly, O wise young man ! Perfection is 
none the less a vice because it is a vice that few are 
capable of practising. That which satisfies and does not 
stimulate the soul of man is but a snare of the Arch- 
enemy.' 

' If that be so, the sooner we all marry the Graiae the 
better. They had but one eye between them, and they 
were always saying, " Oh, the old days were better than 
the new ! " It must be truly edifying to contemplate 
the dissatisfaction in the soul of man that would result 
from such an union. Yet have I heard you swear that 
an ugly woman was not a woman at all.' 

' He does not know what beauty is,' chimed in 
1 From The Cornhill, June 1898. 



THE LADY ON THE HILLSIDE 105 

Guarnieri da Castiglionchio. ' He thinks so much about 
it that he never has time to see it. " He that observeth 
the wind shall not sow, and he that regardeth the clouds 
shall not reap." Paint your ideal beauty for us, Master 
Michele! (You will perceive that he cannot do it.) 
What is she like?' 

They were leaning over a parapet on the Lung' Arno, 
between the Ponte Vecchio and the Bridge of the Four 
Seasons. Michele rested his chin upon his hand, and 
spoke thoughtfully. 

' She is tall and slender, and her head is set upon her 
neck like that of a violet on its stem. The colour in her 
cheek is but a roseleaf dropped on lilies/ 

' Hear him ! ' cried Ercole. ' She is not flesh and blood at 
ail this creature of roses and lilies ! You might as well 
marry Cantica Canticorum. More detail, say I ! What 
is her forehead like ? though I can tell without telling ! ' 

' It is high and white. 1 

' I thought so. The eyebrows ? ' 

' Perfect arch so faintly marked that I am almost 
wrong to call it dark.' 

' The nose ? It is a little nose, of course ? ' 

' The distance between it and the upper lip is perhaps 
a thought longer than with most women.' 

' I should never know this angel of yours if I were to 
meet her. What sort of hair has she ? ' 

Here Guarnieri interrupted. 

' You must not tax his powers too far. Even the 
excellent hero of that excellent English comedy you 
showed me the other day, when he has numbered all the 
gifts that must unite in the person of his mistress, decides 
that her hair shall be " of what colour it please God." ' 

6 Nay, nay,' Michele said. ' I know the colour of her 



106 STORIES 

hair a dark auburn. It is twisted in rippling lines like 
those the waves make out at sea beyond Pisa it takes 
as many ever-varying forms as flame.'' 

' " The Fair One with the Golden Locks " was nothing 
to this lady.' 

' Your description reminds me too much of Medusa, 
said Ercole. ' There is something serpentine about hair 
that looks as if it were endued with separate life. And, 
except for this, Guarnieri is right. You have given no 
details that can be recognised. To quote again his 
favourite barbaric author 

' " How shall I your true love know ? " ' 

' By her motion,' Michele said, so fervently that his 
three friends looked up surprised ; ' for she moves like a 
goddess. By her voice, for, when she speaks, you hear 
the singing of the spheres.' 

' Is she a fool ? ' inquired Guarnieri. ' A woman that 
looks like one of the Celestials generally is. She is a fool, 
of course ? ' Michele smiled mysteriously. 

' She is wise,' he said. ' She has been taught wisdom.' 

' Then she will never marry you, my fine fellow ! ' 

' Why not ? ' Michele asked quickly. 

' Why, indeed ? ' queried Ercole. ' A wise maid knows 
a wise man when she sees him.' 

' That does she not,' cried Guarnieri. 6 You, O 
Michele, are the wisest man of your years in Florence, 
for you have never been known to miss anything on 
which you had set your heart, and you have never been 
known to praise it when you had won it. You could 
tell us tales, if you would (nay, do not frown ! who said 
you would?), of the fairest and most famous dames of 
our city. But for all that, Diotima her very self, if she 



THE LADY ON THE HILLSIDE 107 

wedded, would rather wed Agostino here, who has a 
heart and no head who fights anybody that dares to 
mention a lady said so much as " Good morning" to him, 
unless he does it on his knees. 1 

' Dear me ! ' said Ercole. ' How exceedingly foolish ! ' 

4 It is a kind of folly that women prefer to wisdom/ 

' Ah, well ! You ought to know, Castiglionchio. I 
have heard it said that you yourself are more of a woman 
than a man. 1 

' By whom ? ' said Guarnieri angrily. 

' By the fair Riccarda di Ser Pace da Certaldo, whom 
Heaven preserve ! I am bound to add that she said she 
liked Agostino much better.' 

Guarnieri laughed. 

6 Oho ! Sits the wind in that quarter ? But Madonna 
Riccarda is privileged. If she speaks to me with her 
eyes, as she did the last time I saw her, she shall be 
forgiven the sins of her lips. By the way, Michele, there 
is one thing that you have not told us yet, anent this 
mistress of yours. Has she good eyes ? ' 

Michele did not answer immediately. When he did, 
his voice shook. 

' May I descend to the lowest circle of the lowest 
Inferno, if ever I speak of them ! ' he said. 

A momentary pause followed. 

Ercole had meant to laugh, but he checked himself. 

Guarnieri frowned. 

A sudden outbreak of sincerity, when no one expects 
it, is disagreeable to the nerves as lightning at noon in 
clear weather. There was some one, it appeared, and 
Michele was fond of her. Michele's friends had nothing 
to say. 

Only one of them remained at his ease one who had 



108 STORIES 

not spoken before, but listened, sitting upon the parapet. 
He was the youngest of the group scarcely past boy- 
hood indeed. Now he came to the rescue. 

4 You will be late for the Masque, all three of you,' he 
said. ' The bells rang nine long ago.' 

'The boy speaks well,"* cried Ercole. 'Come, come 
Guarnieri! Stir those thin legs of thine, or Monna 
Riccarda will have something to say to thee, and I am 
much mistaken if she does not say it with her lips and 
her eyes also ! Are not you coming, Agostino ? ' 

'Not I.' 

4 And you, Michele? "It is best to be off with the 
old love before you are on with the new." ' 

4 No doubt ! ' Michele said. ' I will join you later on 
in the evening. Do not wait for me.' 

The two friends drew off, singing a light song as they 
went: 

Quel che mi nega amor, 
Spero dal mio furor ; 
Se non gradito fu il mio l>el foco, 
Del fier cielo le furie iiivoco, 
Nel mio dolor. 

So soon as they were out of sight, Michele laid his 
hand on Agostino's shoulder. 

' You should have gone with them. You are young.' 

* Why should I go ? I have no lady-love. You should 
have gone, Michele. You have many.' 

4 Do you think so ? ' 

Agostino turned round and looked at him. 

' No,' he said slowly. ' You have one.' 

4 I have had many lovers,' Michele said, ' but now the 
time is come to love. I have sought the whole world 
over; now at last I have found. Yes, there is one. I 



THE LADY ON THE HILLSIDE 109 

have talked with her many times. I have instructed her 
in the ways of wisdom. On the wild hillside, where she 
lives, she sees no man except her father. When first I 
spoke to her of love, she stared and started like a 
frightened thing. In three days 1 time I go to wed her. 
You only understood you only saw. I do not want 
those chattering geese to know. Keep my secret, sweet 
friend, and wish me well ! ' 

All the rest of his life Agostino remembered that 
moment the double sparkle of the lights upon the 
Ponte Vecchio, bright up above, softened in the waters ; 
the shadowy fisherman in his shadowy boat, raising his 
cage-like net of gossamer ; the still, dreadful moon, hung 
like a fiery disc in the deep, quiet sky. 

' In seven days,"* he said, ' I also leave my home, not to 
return thither. I know not why I am going. I shall 
not seek as you have sought. When the hour strikes, I 
think that I shall find without seeking. Tell this to no 
one, Michele, but keep my secret and wish me well ! ' 

Agostino blushed as he spoke. To himself he seemed 
to have made a great confession. Michele scarcely heard 
it, nor did it strike him that he too had received a 
confidence. 

Seven days later Agostino rode up the Via delle Belle 
Donne. He was gaily dressed in a suit of white satin 
and silver. 

4 The bridegroom ! The bridegroom ! ' the little 
children in the streets shouted after him ; and he lifted 
his cap good-naturedly, as if he were the duke himself. 

The old men shrugged their shoulders as he passed. 

' The fool ! ' said they ; ' however, youth is always 
young.' 



110 STORIES 

Agostino was in the mood to think every one beautiful. 
The children were Holy Innocents, the old men Solomons 
in all their glory. And, indeed, if there be any place 
where a man may defend the foolishness of feeling happy 
because the sun shines, Florence, in the month of May, 
is that place. 

Agostino had few memories, and his hopes were still 
vague and indefinite, airy thoughts that were bound to 
nothing on earth and lost themselves in the blue. He 
was not compelled to build upon the future because the 
past lay in ruins. His life hitherto had been gentle. He 
lived it fearlessly, seeing no evil ; wanting nothing because, 
when desire is not yet awakened, a very little will satisfy 
one who has it in him to desire the whole world. 

He was on his way now to find out for himself what 
the world looked like beyond the walls of Florence, 
moved by no discontent, but by that restlessness in the 
blood which, at the season when Nature teaches her 
winged children to build houses, stings the children of 
men to forsake theirs, and to seek in travel the new life 
that the wandering creatures find in rest. He could 
hardly forbear singing aloud as he rode. 

A flood of light bathed the stern palaces, and opened 
the buds of all the climbing plants along the walls and 
round the windows. The streets were like a shifting 
garden. Every girl whom he met carried a sheaf of 
blossoms. A child, like a big flower in red from top 
to toe, stole out from the shadow of one of the dark 
doors, looked up to a window and kissed his hand to the 
roses there, then laughed a roguish laugh and ran across 
the bridge. 

Agostino had not made up his mind in what direction 
he was going ; he followed the child. 



THE LADY ON THE HILLSIDE 111 

The goldsmiths on the Ponte Vecchio had set forth all 
their toys. Every counter flashed ; the small black 
booths were afire with brightness. The flood beneath 
had turned jeweller diamonds were sparkling on the 
troubled Arno. The child looked down and clapped his 
hands, dancing for joy. 

One of the goldsmiths at the farther end, who dealt in 
magic rings toadstones and such brown ware glanced 
up at Agostino somewhat wistfully as he passed. 

4 A fine young man ! ' he murmured, ' and going to his 
bridal.' 

Agostino did not hear the words; if he had, they 
would have sent him hotly on his way. But he saw 
the look, and, being sorry that any one should wish for 
anything in vain from him on such a morning, he stopped. 

' Hola, sir shopman of the sad countenance ! Where 
is the brightest jewel in your window ? ' 

'It is not far to seek,' the man said, smiling, and 
showed him a ring of seven fire-opals. 

6 That is a rainbow,' said Agostino. I want only the 
sun.' 

' Nay, Cavaliere,' the man said ; ' what is a rainbow 
but the sun shining on rain, making it sunshine 
too?' 

Agostino laughed, counted out the price (for he was 
careful), and hid the ring beneath his satin vest. The 
child had disappeared meanwhile. 

' I have lost my guide for a bit of finery,' said Agostino 
to himself. < No matter ! I shall find him again when I 
need him. The world is full of guides who do not know 
whither they are going.' 

As he spoke, a scarlet butterfly fluttered down from 
the branches of a tall lilac that overtopped the wall, and 



STORIES 

flew in zigzags on before him, like a flower blown loose 
from its stem. 

' My guide for me,' laughed Agostino, and followed. 

The butterfly led him out of the city and far along 
the road to the mountains. After a while he lost it 
in the new green and the old grey of a rough olive, and 
then he followed the windings of the path. He had 
never in his life ridden so far on this side of the city, 
for he was of a home-keeping disposition, and during his 
childhood and early youth cared for valleys and mountains, 
trees, birds, and living creatures, only when he could look 
at them through the eyes of poets and story-tellers. 
Often had he been angered because older men bade him 
' lift up his eyes unto the hills,' when they were fixed on 
snowy alps, on dazzling peaks, and pinnacles of ice taller 
than any outside the covers of a book. Nevertheless, his 
books of late had left him lacking somewhat. They did 
not hold, as heretofore, the six days of creation and an 
eternal Sabbath besides. 

One day the spring wind rustled the pages that he 
could not read, and spoke to him louder than Petrarch. 
One day the sun struck down on them, so that the black 
and white danced before his eyes, and looking up he saw 
the sun. 

Now, for the first time, he gazed about him, and felt 
as though a veil had lifted ; as long as the sky were 
blue he could never again be altogether sorrowful. His 
books were old compared with the immortal youth of 
trees ; the passion that had set him on fire for love and 
bravery grew chill beside the warmth of this ancient 
light. What was beauty itself, frozen into a form of 
words, to the changing, singing, shining beauty of the 
earth in springtime ? While he read he had often been 



THE LADY OF THE HILLSIDE 113 

troubled by a longing to see the magician who painted 
such marvellous pictures ; but now the fulness of content 
was his he had no desire to behold the author of this 
book. 

' Pure Homer ! ' he said, recalling dimly something that 
he had felt when he heard learned men questioning if 
Homer were one person or many, and wondered why they 
thought it worth while. 

As for his friends, he needed them not. The absence 
of the dearest of them was gain rather than loss. Now 
that he lived alone and free, he knew how well he 
knew ! that they had often left him lonely, that the 
very closeness of their attachment kept him in prison. 
Here there was no friendship : he and the world were 
one. 

He had come to the outskirts of a wood by now ; the 
trees were scattered apart at short distances from each 
other. As he rode under one of them his cap caught 
on a bough. Staying a moment to right it, a little 
song close to his ear stopped suddenly, and peeping in 
he saw among the fresh green leaves and buds a nest on 
which a tiny brown bird sat with twinkling eyes. He 
let the bough go softly, not to frighten her, and waited ; 
but the song did not begin again, and he rode on, deep 
in thought. Where was her mate? It vexed him to 
have sent a thrill of fear, even unconsciously, through 
any heart, when he himself was full of joy. The sight 
of the bird seemed to have snapped a cord, and the vague 
yet eager longing which had driven him forth from the 
city quickened and grew and burst its bonds. 

As he set spurs to his horse and went galloping through 
the forest, it appeared to him that the world fell away 
on either side leaving him in an undreamed-of solitude. 

H 



114 STORIES 

What were these long-lived trees to him ? Their trunks 
were covered with moss when he was born ; they would 
but wear a little more when he was dead. What were 
these woodland creatures? They had their loves and 
sorrows quite apart. 

He had flung his arms around the world ; vast as it 
was, it could not fill them. It failed him as his friends 
had failed him. It was not many that he needed ; it 
was not all. Certain words spoken a week ago took 
form and shaped themselves in his mind : ' There 
is one."* 

And there, in the full, golden light of morning, lay a 
girl, clothed from head to foot in a long robe of green. 
Quite still she lay, and seemed asleep. There was no 
colour in her cheeks. 

How long he stood there gazing, after he had dis- 
mounted from his horse, he did not know. He, who 
had never feared anything, was filled with fear, which 
cast him down into depths of humility that his religion 
had never fathomed. He bent his head, shading his 
eyes with his hand; when he drew it away again it 
was wet. 

' God made you,"* he said. 

Her long white hands, thrown loosely one upon the 
other, held a letter between them. Her head was 
cushioned upon a hillock of moss-: the soft bright hair 
fell like a fairy cloak on either side of her, and glistened 
where it caught the sun. At her feet, on the edge of 
her robe, lay a little long-haired dog, his furry squirrel's 
tail curled over his back, his sharp nose resting on his 
paws, and his eyes shut. 

Both figures were perfectly still. It was only sleep 
that had quieted the dog : was it something else that 



THE LADY OF THE HILLSIDE 115 

kept the lady without motion? The holy and joyful 
fear in him changed into terror at the thought. 

With hushed steps coming nearer, he knelt upon the 
ground by her side, and, bending over, listened. There 
was no breath. When, trembling at his own audacity, 
he laid his hand upon her bosom, it did not heave. 
Trembling still more, he touched her hand. Just such 
a chill had struck through him when he touched that of 
a statue. 

The letter had fallen to the ground. As he picked it 
up he perceived that the cover of it bore this inscription : 
4 To the Wayfarer.' The writing was delicate and fine, 
but stiff. Wonder grew upon him as he broke the seal 
and read : ' O ! thou, who findest without seeking, bury 
me as thou hast found me, for the love of that love for 
which I am dead. 1 Agostino folded it up again carefully, 
so that the paper bent to the same lines, and laid it next 
his heart. 

It was not possible to do anything while the heat 
lasted, and he sat down to watch. Hunger and thirst 
were forgotten. In his long vigil of the day he tasted 
that perfect happiness which kills all bodily need. 

The rays of the sun were slantwise when the dog 
awoke, and, running farther up the hill among the trees, 
began to bark. Loth to go, yet dreading an alien 
presence, Agostino rose quickly and followed it for some 
time. The trees thinned out again as they neared the 
summit, and down the rough mountain-path a man came 
riding slowly and wearily. Could Agostino have avoided 
meeting him he would have done so, but there was no 
help for it ; his very impatience to be back again told 
him that he must wait. 

As the man came nearer, he recognised with a dim 



116 STORIES 

feeling of surprise, the castdown features of Michele, 
and was recognised in his turn. 

Michele reined in a tired steed and said bitterly : 

' Well met, Agostino ! Is the time come to love ? ' 

' Yes ! ' Agostino said. 

' You make short work of it ! ' I have been seeking 
for years. When I saw you but a week since, you had 
not yet begun the search/ 

' No, 1 Agostino said, ' I have found/ 

He spoke as though afraid to say it, and yet Michele 
heard. 

' What is the lady like ? ' he asked scornfully. 

' What is she like ? ' said Agostino, as though he were 
trying to remember. ' She is tall and slender. Her 
forehead is high and very white, and the arched eye- 
brows are faintly marked, soft and dusky. Her hair is 
a dark auburn with rippling lines in it, like those the 
waves make out at sea beyond Pisa.' 

He scarcely recollected that he had heard these words 
before, nor did they seem to him like that which he 
had seen ; they rose to his lips of themselves, as it 
were. 

Michele's eyes flamed, and he laid his hand on the 
hilt of his sword. 

' Wretch ! ' he cried aloud. ' You have stolen her.' 

' What do you mean ? ' said Agostino, who cared 
little. 

6 You have stolen all that was mine in her, down to 
the very words in which I treasured it. Those were 
mine, and you heard them.' 

' Are you mad ? ' Agostino inquired. 

4 Not mad, but like to be. Forgive me, sweetest 
friend ! Your words were as a knife in an open wound. 



THE LADY OF THE HILLSIDE 117 

I have risked all upon one venture, and have lost. So 
you are happy ? ' 

6 Tell me why you are not. 1 

Michele turned his face away, that Agostino might 
not see the flush of shame that reddened it. He spoke 
as one whose speech costs him so many moments out of 
life to utter. 

4 When I reached her father's home three days since, it 
was to hear that she had left it. She told me once 
before that she would not wed me, because she did not 
love me, and without love she held it sin to wed. The 
very day I came she disappeared. She left no clue, 
we ransacked all the neighbourhood in vain. I have 
wandered everywhere seeking ' 

4 And I have found her, 1 said Agostino. 

Michele's sword flashed from its sheath. 

4 Where is she ? ' he shouted. 

Agostino pointed back to the wood. 

4 Give her to me ! ' Michele cried, 4 or, by the powers 
of hell ' 

Agostino straightened his back against the trunk of 
a stone-pine, and prepared to defend himself. 

4 1 will not give her up, 1 he said. 4 EvprjKa. I have 
found her. 1 

And he saluted. 

Michele flew at him like a wild cat. 

He was fighting, for the first time in his life, with 
reckless fury, while his opponent was cool and collected, 
and so composed in mind that he compared the gleam of 
the steel, burnished by the evening light, to a severed 
sunbeam, darting hither and thither. They had fought 
but a round or two when he broke his rival's 
weapon. 



118 STORIES 

Agostino, standing over him, let him feel the touch 
of the sword-point at his throat. 

4 Whose is the lady now ? ' said he. 

' Mine: 

For a long moment neither moved. All the life in 
Michele's veins seemed to be concentrated in the one 
spot where he felt the prick of the steel. 

' Once more, for the last time, 1 said Agostino. ' Whose 
is the lady now ? ' 

< Mine. 1 

' Then,' said the other, ' you are worthy, and I will 
take you to her. Come ! ' 

Too much surprised to speak, Michele rose and 
followed, and Agostino led him to the clearing among 
the trees. 

There lay the lady. 

Michele turned to Agostino. 

' Has she spoken ? ' 

' I have never heard her voice/ 

He flung himself upon the ground, his whole frame 
shaken with the violence of his grief. Then he turned 
angrily to Agostino. 

' You have killed her ! ' he cried. 

For all his answer Agostino drew forth the letter, and 
put it into Michele's hand. 

'She was so weary that she could not live,' he said. 
' She did not know the way. She wandered hither and 
thither, seeking to reach Florence. Here, of her weari- 
ness, she died. Look at her little dog ! The creature 
is half starved.' 

Michele gave back the letter, nor did he speak for 
many minutes. 

'O Agostino!' he cried at last, 'if you had only seen her!' 



THE LADY OF THE HILLSIDE 119 

Agostino did not answer. He was longing to be alone 
again. 

4 Since death has taken her from both of us ' 

Michele stooped, as though to kiss her, but the other 
man drew his sword and held it between. 

4 No,' he said briefly, 4 not that.' 

There was something dangerous in his look. 

Michele raised himself and uncovered his head. 

4 To-morrow,' he said, 4 we will do her the last honours. 
She was a lady of birth.' 

Agostino bowed. 

The sun was all but sunk behind the mountains, 
when he took the dog in his arms, and rode back to the 
last village that he had left outside Florence. 

The stars were bright when he returned on foot alone, 
and a strong sweet scent breathed from the pines. He 
drew the ring from his finger, and placed it solemnly on 
hers with solemn words. 

Then he lay down beside her in the darkness. 

Whether he dreamt awake or sleeping, he did not 
know, but all that night he spent in dreams, that she, 
sleeping her sleep unbrokenly, dreamed also of him. 

He had brought with him the few things that were 
needful. 

Before the sky was grey with dawn he dug her grave. 
Before he laid her in it, as he looked at her for the last 
time, he bent and kissed her on the eyelids twice. 

4 For I have never seen her eyes,' he said. 

The birds began to sing as he smoothed the earth 
over her. 



120 STORIES 



[1898] 
THE SNOW IS COMING l 

IT is a long while since anything happened in this world 
for the first time. The first time the sun shone the 
first time the snow fell these things are not matter of 
record. By good luck, the first time is always recurring, 
especially in London. What Londoner does not re- 
member the first time the sun shone again after a fog 
that lasted a week ? And when the first snow falls the 
cockneys do not take it as if they were country folk. 
Strange excitement comes over them at the mere thought 
of sooty London dressed in white. A few go about 
quoting Mr. Robert Bridges, who alone of poets has 
understood them on this point ; and the rest quote him 
without knowing. 

I had not accounted to myself for it ; but an unusual 
stir in my blood moved me to run, to shout, or sing, or 
behave in a manner that might have caused the police 
to interfere, as I went along the streets one evening in 
early winter. The gas-lamp is in itself a signal for the 
enjoyment of Londoners. They may be half asleep all 
day, but with the yellow dawning of those myriads of 
stars a glow of warmth quickens them. So much the 
better, if there should be a moon to make faces among 
the chimney-tops ! (There was a moon that night.) If 
1 From The Cornhill, December 1898. 



THE SNOW IS COMING 

the snow be on the way, and the air tense with the 
expectation of it, the nerves awake and sting the languid 
soul into pleasure. 

I turned down a poor alley to visit an acquaintance 
there an Essex woman who talks about ' threadling ' 
her needle, and supposes the plural of ' house ' to be 
6 housen.' She is married to a sailor who sails the seas 
no more. He sometimes tries to explain to me the 
geography or seagraphy of a ship. I never under- 
stand it, but I have learned to talk about * the ryals ' 
and ' the main-topgallon,' whatever that may be. 

' The snow is coming ! ' I said to his wife, with as 
much exultation as if I said ' The Queen is coming ! ' 

* Yes, miss,' she said, ' and coals is one-and-threepence 
a hundred, and they '11 go up.' She glanced at the sky. 

What a pity it is to have a financial interest in the 
weather ! I felt ashamed because I had none. I remember 
Mrs. Ewing's heroine, who poked the fire ' expensively,' 
and sighed a little and smiled also to think that I 
could poke mine as often as I liked. Then I went to the 
South Kensington Museum, to look for a spinning-wheel. 

The policeman and the man at the entrance were 
divided in their minds as to whether a spinning-wheel is 
a piece of furniture or a machine. If it is a piece of 
furniture, yes, you will find it there ! If it is a machine, 
no, you will never find it unless you go across the road. 
Not feeling inclined to go across the road, I chose to 
consider it furniture. 

Past one half and then the other of the column of 
Trajan, through the old tapestry-room, down the narrow 
corridor of snow-men and snow-women bequeathed to us 
by the Greeks and Romans, I went ; and reached at last 
the place where chairs and tables, and beds and cabinets 



122 STORIES 

and mirrors, ranged with forlorn regularity, show what 
beautiful homes people had once. There was never a 
spinning-wheel among them. I listened for the ghostly 
hum of it in vain. 

Tired out after a long search, I sat down to rest on the 
pedestal of a cupboard. 

The gallery was quite deserted, except for a woman of 
middle age, who seemed willing neither to go nor to stay. 
Something fidgety and wistful about her compelled one 
to notice her movements. She went to and fro with 
rapid, uncertain steps, making indefinite pauses before 
the object of her consideration trying to leave it, as 
it were always returning. The magnetic force that 
attracted her seemed to reside in a wooden cradle. There 
was nothing particular about it ; it was not like the 
cradle of the Earl of Derwentwater, which stood near by 
three black feathers that had once been golden still 
waved stiffly over the head. It was just a wooden cradle 
nothing more, nothing less. Yet she came back again 
and again, as if she could not tear herself from the spot. 
She was a well-favoured person, fresh and weather-beaten, 
as though she had lived much in the open air. Her 
dress was so neat that the shabby material of it did not 
at first strike the eye ; would not perhaps have struck 
me at all but for the fact that she wore woollen gloves. 
She was clearly a single woman ; I could have told that 
by the vague suddenness of motion which is common to 
those who are much by themselves, and have not to think 
of disturbing other people in the room. 

' You, here ! ' she said, addressing a policeman as he 
went by. ' Mine is much better than that,' and she 
pointed to the cradle. Her accent was good, but she 
spoke rather too loud for a lady. 



THE SNOW IS COMING 123 

' Indeed, Miss ? ' said the guardian of law and order, 
with great politeness. He knew as well as I did that she 
was Miss and not Mrs. 

' Mine is old ; it 's been in our family from father to 
son, and all that kind of thing,' she went on. * The 
Museum 's given 6 for that. Do you think, now, they 
would give me 6 for mine ? The carving on mine 's 
much better. I know, because I 'm an artist. That 's 
not good art at all. Now mine 's Elizabethan.' 

' Maybe, Miss. Couldn't say. We ain't got but one 
or two specimens.' 

'I've half a mind to do it,' she said, in quick, excited 
tones. ' It's awfully cold. I believe the snow's coming. 
I 'm sick to death of London lodgings ; there isn't room 
to swing a cat in them. I 'd better by half have a fire to 
sit by. And I could always come and see the cradle 
here, couldn't I ? They wouldn't take it away ? I could 
always come and see it ? I could come and see it every 
day if I liked.' 

The policeman reassured her as to this, and moved on. 
Now, I thought, she would surely go. But she did not. 
She waited until the policeman was out of sight, when 
she took a biscuit from her pocket and began to eat care- 
fully and furtively, making as few crumbs as possible. It 
was her afternoon tea, I supposed, and she was taking it 
here for the sake of the warmth. 

4 1 beg your pardon,' I began. ' I heard you say just 
now that you had a beautiful old cradle. I happen to 
know a lady who is fond of such things. I feel sure that 
she would give you ^?10 if you would be so kind as to 
dispose of it to her.' 

' No,' she said, without a moment's hesitation. ' I 
wouldn't part with it, not to any private individual. It 



124 STORIES 

was my mother's, and my mother's mother's before her. 
I wouldn't let it go except to here. And I wouldn't do 
that, only the snow 's coming. But I can come and see 
it here every day every day just as if it was in my 
own room.' 

There was a refreshing absence of gratitude about her ; 
she did not even say ' Thank you.' I turned away. 

The streets were brighter, the air tingled more fiercely 
than ever as I went home; but I felt glad no longer 
because the snow was coming. 



THE CITY OF BYBLOS 125 



[1890] 
THE CITY OF BYBLOS 

' Ich habe einen kuriosen Respect vor dem Buchermachen, well 
ich im Leben nie eins machen konnte.' MICHAEL HAUPTMANN. 

IT lies behind a large lending library. When I had 
walked through several miles of novels, I came at last 
to the City. It had a very remarkable appearance, for 
the houses were built entirely of books. Very pretty 
houses they were too (though somewhat square), the 
colouring bright and varied, the name of the owner in 
gold letters over every door. In the midst of them 
stood a vast Cathedral, every stone of which was a work 
on Theology. A number of very uneven Steps to the 
Altar led up to it. I must say, it looked rickety, for 
not one of the stones exactly fitted the other, but strange 
to say, they told me the spire was the safest part. 
Standing far down below, I naturally could not see the 
names of books so far above me, but I was told that 
those of the most elevated character had by a natural 
process risen to the top ; the Weathercock had veered 
about considerably in early life, but had now for a long 
time pointed due South. There was much to admire in 
the Architecture. The Lives of the Saints would have 
made exquisite Gothic doorways, but that they con- 
tradicted each other so much in detail. The gargoyles, 
which were cut out of controversial pamphlets, were 



126 STORIES 

making diabolical faces, but the stained-glass windows, 
being the work of poets, were exquisitely transparent, 
and formed indeed the most harmonious part of the 
Cathedral. The East window had been painted by 
Keble, and round the border ran this legend: The 
Christian Year. I got in with some difficulty. The 
dust that was flying about almost choked me, and I 
found it quite impossible to do more than speculate as 
to the construction of the interior. However, as it 
seemed to be of no particular Age or Style, that mattered 
the less. 

'We think it our duty to tell you ' began the 

Cathedral, all the books speaking at once. But they 
all spoke very loud, and they all said something quite 
different, so that at last, unable to distinguish anything 
in such a Babel, I walked sorrowfully away. 

' Why can't you keep them quiet ? ' I said to the 
Verger, a decent-looking man, clothed in black, who 
had opened the door for me with a Key to the Interpreta- 
tion of The Holy Scripture. 

6 It *s all very well to talk,' he said despondently, ' but 
they are the most ill-mannered books in the world. They 
can't endure each other. I assure you, when any repairs 
have to be executed, the row is quite deafening. Only 
a year or two ago, when one of the buttresses showed 
signs of giving way, and we propped it up with Farrar's 
Eternal Hope, they made such a noise, that I thought 
they would have brought the whole building about our 
ears . It's very odd though,' he continued, 'I let in a 
man the other day, and when he came out again, he 
told me he heard them all singing the Hallelujah Chorus, 
but when I asked the books about him afterwards, they 
said he was a Jew, Turk, Infidel and Heretic." 



THE CITY OF BYBLOS 127 

'They are the very strangest books in the world,' I 
said, giving him sixpence. * Thank you. Which is the 
main thoroughfare ? ' 

4 Whichever you like,"* he rejoined. ' It really doesn't 
matter in the least. But most people think it 's through 
the Cathedral.' 

I knew, however, that if I ventured to cross the thresh- 
old the Cathedral would begin talking again, and besides 
I considered the Verger's last remark very professional, 
so I left him on the steps, and diving into a side alley, 
went my own way, without asking any one else's. It is a 
curious place. Every house is a shop, and every other 
inhabitant is a Sandwich Man. The brothers and sisters 
of the Sandwich Men keep the shops, and as it is all done 
in a family way, the profits are enormous. They have a 
few first cousins, who are conjurers, and I came upon one 
of these at the first street corner I turned. He was his 
own Sandwich Man, and he was shouting at the top of 
his voice : ' Tricks of the trade ! Tricks of the trade ! 
Tricks of the trade ! A penny for my thoughts ! A penny 
for my thoughts ! Who '11 buy ? ' whereupon he immedi- 
ately sat down on a mat and vanished. ' A penny for 
your thoughts indeed ! ' I said contemptuously ; c I don't 
think much of that. Mr. Isaacs taught it me long ago.' 
The performance took place in Queer Street, just outside 
a very odd-looking shop with a number of hearts hung 
up in the window. 

'There's a great demand for them just now,' said the 
shopman, ' specially women's. Mrs. Carlyle's is a fortune. 
Keats's fetched a good price some little while ago. 
Shelley's was said to be too light ; didn't realise anything 
like Harriet's and Mary Wollstonecraft's. I 've heard it 
denied that Wordsworth ever had any to speak of, but 



128 STORIES 

that 's not true, for I sold it myself over this very counter. 
George Eliot's was large but not juicy. Charlotte Bron ' 

( Oh hush ! ' I said, interrupting him, ' it really does 
distress me very much. I have heard of a lady long ago, 
who " locked her heart in a gowden case, and pinned it 
wi' a siller pin." Are there no ladies who do this now, or 
no gentlemen to keep the key of the case for them ? ' 

' No," said the shopman, ' they mostly put them into 
envelopes, and the gentlemen break them open. One or 
two may have been kept in diaries here and there, but 
that 's not so common." 1 

' I never did approve that fashion of wearing your heart 
on your sleeve, for all the daws to peck at,' I observed. 

' You don't understand,' rejoined the shopman. 
6 They 're not alive, my dear Sir. The Dead Heart is 
a stock piece everywhere.' 

' I remember a fair Queen of France,' I said, following 
up the dim poetical association of certain words, ' whose 
dead heart was really locked in a golden case, with these 
words inscribed on it : 

En ce petit vaisseau 
De fin or et monde 
Repose un plus grand coeur 
Que oncque dame cut au monde. 

' She was a Queen of Hearts in her day, but I never 
heard that she let any one into her own.' 

* Indeed,' cried the shopman eagerly, ' it must be very 
valuable. Could you give me an idea where it is to be 
found ? ' 

' Why, no ! ' said I, ' I couldn't. But you can have my 
heart if you like. It 's very tender. How much are you 
prepared to offer ? ' 

' Thank you, sir,' replied the shopman politely, but 



THE CITY OF BYBLOS 129 

rather coldly, ' it wouldn't be of the slightest use, at least 
not while you're alive, you know. Besides, I couldn't 
take your word. If it 's so very tender, you may have lost 
it, and then I should make a better bargain with some one 
else. I don't say you wish to deceive.' 

Considering this last remark impertinent, we left, my 
heart and I. 

The next shop was full of little bottles containing a 
pale grey liquid, and a signboard, with ' Old Morality ' 
printed on it in very big letters, swung to and fro over 
the door. I felt confused. 'Surely it must be "Old 
Mortality " spelt wrong,' I thought, ' they read so much 
in this city, that they 've forgotten how to spell,' but no 
such thing. 

' Taste and try, 
Before you buy/ 

said the shopman unctuously. 

' It 's not very good,' I said, making a wry face. 

' No ? ' he returned in an inquiring tone. ' That 's 
because the bottle you tasted came from Paris. Gallic 
Salt they call it. Some people say it 's not Morality at 
all. Kept too long. Gone bad, you know. But the 
French declare it 's the real thing, and they 're the best 
chemists in the world. They say it 's too strong to go 
down everywhere, but only the other day I heard some 
young English ladies were taking it in the form of 
Lectures. 1 Try a little Russian. You '11 find it very good, 
mixed with steel. Tolstoi's recipe is the best.' 

'No, thank you,' said I. I had had enough of the 
French. ' Do you find it answers from a business point 
of view, to keep a shop of this kind ? ' 

1 See Prospectus of King's College Lectures to Ladies for the last term 
of 1889. 

I 



130 STORIES 

' Mine, 1 said the Apothecary, puffing himself out to his 
proudest proportions, ' mine is the most thriving business 
in Queer Street. Small doses sell best of all. You don't 
want too much of it in a book, you know, but a little you 
must have. It's the vinegar in the salad. Of course 
there are people who make books without it, but unless 
they happen to be Ouida, it doesn't pay. And even 
Ouida would have sold much better, if she'd only had 
a dash of it. Try our celebrated Milk and Water 
Morality. It 's as sweet as sugar ; children like it. You 
don't look very strong. You won't be happy till you 
get it. The authoress of We Two writes, ' / find it 
invaluable.'' 

I shook my head and touched a little bottle of pills. 

4 Those are the bitter pills of Melancholy,' he explained. 
' But they 're not much the fashion now. Iron "s the 
thing. " A tonic sadness," and all that, you know.' 

As I was not in the humour for a tonic sadness, I left 
the shop. A big Menagerie was coming down Queer 
Street. Lions and tigers, warranted to sell again admir- 
ably, might be booked for Christmas, I was informed. 
Fairies were on view within, and there was a witch or 
two. 

' But I can't recommend them, sir,' said the literary 
Barnum, shaking his head. ' They 're not what they used 
to be. The race has degenerated sadly. Even an infant of 
two years old don't believe in them any longer. As for 
trees that isn't trees, and shadows with eyes to them, and 
that sort of performance, there 's only George MacDonald 
can do it, and you can't keep them on stock for one 
customer. Mr. Anstey bought a Black Poodle here the 
other day ; I can show you the exact ditto, if ' 

But at this moment a Polar Bear broke loose from the 



THE CITY OF BYBLOS 131 

Menagerie, and caused considerable commotion among 
the Sandwich Men, who began rushing hither and thither 
in wild alarm. 

'It's very provoking, 1 said the Manager, arming him- 
self with a lasso. ' Can you wait a moment ? I shall 
have to go after that animal. He 's sure to get into some 
book he's not intended for, and then there'll be the 
deuce to pay. He '11 be wanted all over the place for 
Voyages to the North Pole and the first chapters of Lives 
of Lord Nelson, in a week or two, and he 's a dead loss to 
me if I can't catch him. Good gracious me ! The beast '11 
be into that china shop ! ' 

This last observation was levelled at the head of a 
wild bull, who had taken advantage of the ungenerous 
conduct of the Polar bear, to effect his escape like- 
wise. 

'I'll look after the bull,' said I. 'You tackle the 
bear.' 

It seemed the kindest, though not the bravest thing to 
do. By the time I had reached the china shop, however, 
the wild bull was gone, and the shopman was sitting, 
like Marius at Carthage, in the midst of a heap of ruins, 
the fragments of a bit of Sevres porcelain in his hand. 

'If you want any more Ballades in Blue China, he 
observed savagely, ' you must sing them yourself.' 

' I suppose you think I 'm Andrew Lang,' I returned, 
' but I 'm not.' 

4 1 never supposed you were anything of the kind,' said 
this rudest of the inhabitants of Byblos. 

' Oh, Austin Dobson ! Austin Dobson, oh ! To think 
such a thing should have happened in an old-established 
shop that was an old-established shop in the days of 
Charles Lamb ! ' 



132 STORIES 

I left him there lamenting, and passed on. As the 
next shop had Modes et Robes over the door, I thought 
it must be more of a place for ladies, and was about to 
go further, when the Modiste herself came out and 
implored me to enter. She sold the most incongruous 
costumes quite impartially. Frocks for girls just out of 
the schoolroom, suits of armour a la Vandyke, the 
tempestuous petticoats of the danseuse, the hat and 
gaiters of the Dean, were here mingled together in 
picturesque confusion, and just as I was about to express 
my surprise, I heard a cry of ' Old Clo,' and a wild and 
weary man with a hooked nose came in, and upset a 
number of helmets and battle-axes on to the floor. 

'But the latest fashion is 1745,' said the Modiste, 
' plain black with very long ruffles. Mr. R. L. Stevenson 
bought some here the other day, and expressed himself 
very well satisfied; he said they became the Master of 
Ballantrae admirably. You don't happen to have one 
of your heroes with you ? We are at liberty j ust now, 
and I should be happy to accommodate him. There's 
a fitting-room upstairs, and you can have tea while 
you wait.' 

' Alas ! ' I said, ' I have seen many heroes, but I could 
never make one.' 

' Couldn't you really ? ' said the dressmaker sympatheti- 
cally. ' Well now, suppose you try ! It 's not in the 
least difficult, provided you have good clothes. The 
clothes are half the battle. Why, a bunch of feathers 
will do, so you arrange them properly. I've known a 
hero that was a very great success with no more clothes 
on than that. He hadn't a stitch of lace to bless himself 
with. But lace is very much worn still. There was 
quite a rage for it after the first appearance of Mr. John 



THE CITY OF BYBLOS 133 

Inglesant. Rags are fashionable too for the East End. 
We 've got a rag and bone department next door. But 
perhaps you'd rather get your hand in on a heroine. 
They 're as easy as easy ! There must be a certain style 
about the hero, even if he does wear plain black, but 
there needn't be any whatever about the heroine, in fact 
it makes her all the more charming to have none. 
What can be prettier than a simple white muslin ? 
Gentlemen's ladies always wear white muslin, and ladies' 
gentlemen black velvet. Or if you 'd prefer a little more 
trimming, what do you say to a satin cloak of the very 
faintest, palest wood-beetle green ? ' It 's very effective, 
if you give the young lady " ashen hair." If she follows 
it up well, and has "a glove-like waist that seems 
without a wrinkle and made of whitest kid," and if 
" her shoulders peep more snowy " over it, I should also 
advise a frothy train of rippling. That would be enough 
to get her into the best magazine going. No ? Well, 
we've got a lot of baby-linen over from Paris, too. I 
expect Monsieur Alphonse Daudet in every minute. But 
would you like to have first choice? There's a very 
good toyshop over the way; you'll find the baby-dolls 
extremely cheap. There's a sale going on just now. 
And they can walk and talk, and shut their eyes, and 
do everything.' 

Too thankful to escape from the Modiste on any 
pretence, I dashed across the street into the toyshop. 
It was very gay indeed outside, the walls consisting 
wholly of the covers of children's books, but within it 
was anything but lively. There was a whole row of 
Little Lord Fauntleroys sitting in arm-chairs, with one 
of their legs tucked under them, and looking unutterably 
bored. 



134 STORIES 

'Are you a bloodthirsty tyrant ?' they all said with 
the sweetest smile, putting their legs down with one 
accord. 

I had almost said, ' What a very impertinent little boy 
you are, to ask such a question ! ' but they did it with 
such engaging innocence that I was quite disarmed, and 
besides, my attention was attracted by half a dozen 
Sarah Crewes, who were trying to get the orphan out 
of Our Mutual Friend to play with them. But the 
orphan seemed inclined to be anything rather than 
Sarah Crewe's mutual friend. 

' No,' he said, with the air of a child more than 
double his age, 'I've got to die so soon, it really is 
not worth while. Besides, what 's the use of it ? 
Nobody minds in the least. I 'm not a fashionable 
little boy any longer/ 

Here he began to die straight off in front of me. 
Unable to endure the sight, I turned away, but it was 
only to read in the pathetic eyes of twenty little 
Leonards the Story of their Short Lives. 

' Boots and black beetles ! ' I cried it was an oath 
that I remembered to have seen in a work adapted for 
the young, so I was not afraid of shocking them. 
4 What a horrible place this is ! Are there no children 
alive anywhere ? ' 

'Oh, but we're much more touching when we die!' 
they said in eager chorus, ' and we sell so much better ! ' 

4 1 was misunderstood besides,' added the most moving 
of the whole lot. ' You 're misunderstanding me now. 
I 'm going to die.' 

' Oh, please don't ! ' I entreated ; but his eyes had 
already begun to close, and a deathly pallor overspread 
his countenance. 



THE CITY OF BYBLOS 135 

' There are some children that never die round there,' 
he said faintly, pointing to another department, and a 
few minutes afterwards he expired. 

I was much tempted to stay and speak to Gavroche, 
whom I had noticed playing with a gun on the doorstep, 
but the immediate vicinity of Froggy and his little 
brother prevented me, and before I had time to get out, 
a cheerful little girl with long, wavy curls ran up to me, 
and said abruptly : 

' How does the wind look when it doesn't blow ? ' 

' My dear,' I said, ' you may ask interesting questions, 
but you have a strong American accent, and I 'm sure I 
shouldn't know how to manage you. You will find 
everything that you need to know about the wind in 
The Child's Guide to Useful Knowledge, and whatever is 
not in The Child's Guide to Useful Knowledge, no little 
girl should want to ' 

But here another little girl, exactly like the first, except 
that she was not at all cheerful, suddenly flung herself into 
my arms, and bursting into sobs, exclaimed passionately : 

f When will you come back again, 
Papa, Papa?' 

'Didn't I do it nicely?' she added the next minute, 
smiling at me through her tears. ' Will you engage me, 
and put me into a book ? ' 

' Very nicely indeed,' I replied, ' I almost wish I really 
were your papa and could come back again, but as I 'm 
not, and as I haven't the least desire to put you into a 
book, I think you'd better get down, my dear.' 

I set her on her feet, and again turned to the door, 
but was again withheld by all the Little Lord Fauntleroys, 
who said plaintively : ' Won't you put me into a book, 



136 STORIES 

and let us be naughty just for once? We don't know 
what it 's like. It would be something quite new.' 

' My lords ! ' I said sternly, for I beheld in them the 
future aristocracy of England, 'you don't know what 
you 're asking. Lords never are naughty,' and I departed. 
I heard the voice of a baby that could only just speak, 
remarking, 'I'se Popsy-Wopsy ' somewhere around my 
feet, and babies of that age are specially calculated to 
drive bachelors mad. There were two shops over the 
way, one bearing the inscription Howells and James, 
where I understood from the advertisements there were 
several good heroines on view, and one for the sale of 
language. ' Wardour Street English is cheap to-day,' I 
read over a bundle of the sort of expressions that begin 
with ' By my halidome ! ' ' Useful ' was stuck up over a 
packet of remarks in French, German, and Italian, the 
grammar of which certainly never cost any one much. 
' Very moderate ' on a parcel of the very moderate number 
of quotations, without which it is apparently impossible 
to produce either a volume of sermons or a modern 
romance. The sight of ' Nature red in tooth and claw ' 
scared me away at once. 

I did not feel inclined to enter Howells and James's, 
it sounded too much like a shop I knew already. There 
were a good many heroes and heroines standing idle 
in the market-place, but I did not take to any of 
them, though several of them offered themselves on 
advantageous terms. 

' Where are the rest of you ? ' I said ; you are not all 
here. I miss " the old familiar faces." ' 

'They've been turned out to grass,' responded a 
stray baronet, ' they thought it would keep them fresher. 
They're sitting on a hundred gates all round a square 



THE CITY OF BYBLOS 137 

field until they're wanted again, because they've got 
no style. There was a paper about it in The Cornhitt. 
You ought to have known that, if your reading had been 
up-to-date. 1 

I considered him nearly as rude as the owner of the 
china shop, but at that moment my attention was 
distracted by the passing of a procession of four of the 
Sandwich Men, carrying two beautiful books on litters. 
They were both very white, but I thought that was 
simply due to the fact that they were bound in parch- 
ment, until I heard some one say that one of the books 
had been murdered and the other seriously hurt. The 
men who had charge of the book that was still alive set 
down their burden at the door of a hospital, where it was 
taken in by kind nurses, and put to bed in a great big 
ward with several others, whereupon, to my great surprise, 
they all began to talk at the tops of their voices. 

'Will it recover?' I said in an awestruck whisper. 

4 Well ! ' said one of the nurses, 'it's been badly wounded 
by the critics, but I think it '11 do if we can only talk 
long enough and loud enough. They always die of 
neglect in the end never of wounds.' 

' And how long will it be, supposing it does recover ? ' 

'Oh, three months in town perhaps, and six in the 
country,' said the cheerful nurse. ' But it 's in a critical 
state just now, and you really must not interrupt me.' 

She began to talk again as hard as she could, and I 
stopped my ears, and ran away out of the hospital, down 
the street after the murdered book. They carried it 
outside the walls to a great desolate cemetery, where 
nothing grew but faded laurel. If I had done no other 
work for the rest of my natural existence, I never could 
have counted the graves that it contained. There was 



138 STORIES 

not a single monument, not a stone over any one of 
them. I remembered the nurse's words: 'They always 
die of neglect.' There was not even a wreath of 
everlastings anywhere to be seen. Here and there in 
odd corners men with long nails were scratching in the 
ground like ghouls. 

' Those are the antiquaries,' said the gravedigger, ' they 
come here pretty often, and sometimes they unearth a 
thing or two, but not much. It is believed that treasure 
does exist in the shape of buried wisdom. But how dieth 
the wise book ? As the foolish, and there 's a deal of folly 
buried here. They're very busy over the Elizabethan 
corner just now.' 

I turned away, sick at heart, and quitted the cemetery. 
A broad road went past it, and I walked along it for some 
time, until I happened to meet a Sandwich Man, and asked 
him where it led to. 

'Down to the river of Lethe,' he said, 'you're quite 
close to it now, but you could never hear it, it flows 
so silently. Some people call it the stream of Time, 
but the old name is the best. They say it will flood 
the cemetery by and by. All the books get there 
sooner or later, only a few of them make the tour of 
the world first. Most of them take the direct road, as 
you see.' 

They were hurrying past me as he spoke, big books, 
little books, serious and frivolous, pretty and ugly, wise 
and ridiculous, they were all wobbling along as fast as 
they could go, down to the river. 

' Stop, stop ! ' I cried. (There were so many that I 
knew amongst them, and they had been such good 
friends to me ! Only one or two that I had never read, 
and the very names of which were unknown to me, were 



THE CITY OF BYBLOS 139 

going leisurely the other way. I redoubled my exertions 
to save my friends.) 

4 Come back, come back ! ' I cried, ; you 11 all be 
drowned ! Make the tour of the world first ! ' 

But not one of the books seemed to hear me, and a 
thing in twenty-nine editions bumped itself up against 
me, screaming out, 'I'm the successful book of the 
season. I shall be there first. Hootity-tootity-too ! ' 

I felt so much annoyed with the silly, conceited thing, 
that I held my peace, and then, out of the varying cries 
around, out of the distant shouts of the Sandwich Men, 
out of the washing of the waves of Lethe, there rose a 
warning voice that said in words that I had heard long 
ago in my childhood, ' Of making many books there is 
no end.' 



140 STORIES 



THE CONSCIENTIOUS SECRETARY 

THERE lives in Bond Street a Secretary, a little pale, 
gentle man, with long thin fingers and eyes that see 
nothing close to them. Every one likes him, but no one 
keeps him long. He is never out of employment, for he 
is always engaged as soon as he appears, but he has a 
new master every few weeks. No one, however, says any- 
thing against him. His testimonials would fill a volume : 
everywhere it is stated that his handwriting is excellent, 
his character a perfect model. 

' Why then did you not keep him ? ' I inquired of his 
thirty-first employer, a solid, red-faced business man, 
comme il y en a tant. For some reason or other, he did 
not like answering my question. He rose put his hands 
in his pockets went over to the window, looked out at 
nothing whistled came back again. He is of those 
who are obliged to tell the truth because they have no 
imagination. I had only to wait. 

' Because, 1 he said, ' he always dots his i's and crosses 
his fs twice over. I wouldn't say anything against him 
for ,100, you know. He's the best little fellow in the 
world. But he always dots his i's and crosses his fs 
twice over.' 

* What can be the reason of such an odd habit ? ' I 
asked. 



THE CONSCIENTIOUS SECRETARY 141 

My friend sighed. 

' He says it 's for the good of posterity. We don't see 
so well as our grandfathers did, and our grandchildren 
won't see so well as we do, and we are bound to give 
them every chance. He would rather not dot an i at all 
than not dot it twice over. I dare say he is right. We 
think too little about the future nowadays. But it takes 
time, and time is money.' 

When my friend says ' Time is money,' he thinks he 
has said everything there is to say about time. The rest 
of the employers think j ust the same. 



142 STORIES 



[1907] 
CATS IN COUNCIL 

Two cats were once enjoying The Merchant of Venice 
together. 

One was a stage cat. The actors and actresses were 
very fond of her, and she often sat in the prompter's 
box, on first nights especially. 

' I acted once myself ! ' she said in a confidential 
whisper aside to her friend. ' It was in Romeo and 
Juliet. I have every sympathy with young love, and all 
my warmest feelings are stirred when the jeune premier 
knows how to climb like a cat, as Romeo does. But they 
talked about a lark and a nightingale until my mouth 
watered. It always does, you know, when I hear people 
say " What larks ! " I thought there really must be a 
bird or two in that very stiff green tree that grows out- 
side all the windows in Verona : so I ran across the stage 
as fast as ever I could. You have no conception of what 
it is to be on the stage. I never knew before what 
nervousness was. All those opera-glasses fixed upon 
one, all those restless, flashing human eyes ! But I was 
a succes fou. With one scrabble of my paws, without 
even blotting a line, I changed a tragedy into a comedy. 
Every one laughed even Romeo and Juliet, poor dear 
young things ! ' 

' Ah ! ' said the parlour cat, who came from South 



CATS IN COUNCIL 143 

Kensington, and had attended Shakespeare Readings. 
She thought it rather a vulgar story really. 

Still they were both cats of superior education, and 
a good play was an intellectual treat to both. It was 
caviare to them in the sense in which a good play was 
caviare to the Prince of Denmark, not to the general. 

6 Very odd," 1 said the patroness of the stage, ' how 
much there is in the work of Shakespeare that is of the 
deepest interest to cats. I sometimes think he must 
have been a cat himself. Every inch of fur on my tail 
stands on end when I hear the sentinel say, as he walks 
up and down at Elsinore, " Not a mouse stirring ! " 
I know the little wretches. Depend upon it, there 
were six at least in the cellarage under his very nose, 
if he had only sniffed. Hamlet knew that well enough. 
" A rat a rat in the arras ! " That was what he was 
thinking of the whole time. That was why he went 
mad. It is a very strange thing that the critics should 
never have thought of it. He had so much of the cat 
in him, had Hamlet ! ' 

' If they had half the sense of smell that we possess, 
everything would have been found out long ago, 1 said 
the parlour cat. 'To my mind, The Merchant of 
Venice was written entirely to prove that men are 
not aware of the value of cats. When Shy lock says 
that some men cannot bear " a humble, necessary cat " 
any more than a harmless necessary Jew, he says a thing 
that must go straight to the heart of every cat, from 
the first cat that caught fish in Egypt downwards." 

6 1 disagree with you there,' said the stage cat. ' I am 
inclined to think that our first ancestress, who is now 
drinking the cream of Paradise, came from Persia.' 

'You may be right,' said the parlour cat, with a 



144 STORIES 

magnificent wave of her tail, and a velvet claw half 
unsheathed. 'We were talking about Shakespeare, I 
think. Did it ever occur to you that the " green-eyed 
monster " must have been a very big cat that was called 
jealousy? The word green proves it, without a doubt. 
Who ever saw a green-eyed dog or a green-eyed horse ? 
" Monster " is very gratifying also. It is amazing to find 
what an idea men have of our size. Lord Roberts, for 
instance ! He cannot sit in the room with me. He is a 
little man, of course. He has conquered a great many 
other men, of course ; but he cannot conquer his aversion 
to cats. It must be because he thinks they are so big. 
He can't dislike green, as he comes from Ireland.' 

' I thought we were talking about Shakespeare,' 
murmured the stage cat suavely. Her eyes were not so 
good a green as those of the parlour cat. 

The parlour cat stared at her for five minutes without 
blinking, and then pretended nothing had been said, and 
went on where she left off. 

' A harmless, necessary cat ! ' she said. ' O my dear, 
how pathetic it is ! ' // rfy a pas de chat necessaire. 
There is no such thing as a necessary cat, not even 
though Shakespeare thought there was ! We can all 
be dispensed with, even the best rat-catcher amongst us. 
I buried a friend of mine the other day, a gentleman 
most eminent in his profession, and what do you think ? 
They replaced him next day with a mouse-trap ! ' 

'Did they indeed?' said the stage cat, with deep 
sympathy. 'The play in Hamlet, the play that was 
written in very choice Italian, if you remember, was 
called The Mouse Trap? Shakespeare knew, what 
man better ? that everything goes wrong in a family 
where they have mouse-traps instead of cats. He was a 
cat himself, I feel quite sure of it.' 



ESSAYS 



[1884] 
HER GRACE, THE DUCHESS * 

THE world is getting daily more democratic, and it is 
possible that we may soon arrive at that golden age of 
Socialists and Quakers which is to turn us all into 
Citizen this, and Friend the other. Still there are cer- 
tain members of the aristocracy who will never even then 
be asked to don the bonnet-rouge, who will still exist to 
remind a free, equal, and fraternal world that there were 
once such things as kings and princes, and such-like futile 
distinctions between man and man. Their crowns will 
be as fresh then as on the day they wore them first, their 
courts as noble as before ; for they cannot be got to talk 
the vulgar tongue, and they shall live for ever and ever, 
these grand aristocrats, most of whom never lived at all. 

Strange that a prince who can make dukes by the 
dozen for the five years of his lifetime, should after that 
be at the mercy of a king- maker, whose style is generally 
plain Mr., and who can make nothing, not even money ! 
Yet so it is, and the poet king-makers are very tyrannical 
in their choice of candidates. 

Who is Shakespeare's ideal monarch ? Not Alfred the 
Good, who first taught England how to read; not 
Edward i., who made her feel that the strength of her 
strength was unity, but that expensive hero who plunged 
her into one of the most unjustifiable and, in the end, 
1 From The Theatre , September 1884. 



148 ESSAYS 

most fatal wars she ever undertook, to satisfy his own 
hungry ambition. 

Queens in all ages and amongst all classes have been 
popular ; as theirs will probably be the last of all titles 
to die out in the actual world, so theirs is the first in the 
world of poetry and plays. By the grace of William 
Shakespeare, Esq. (and others), they are, and always will 
be, Queens, Defenders of the Faith, within their dominions 
supreme. 

Others there are too, not less noble, ladies in the great 
sense of the word, on whom their two hundred years and 
odd sit lightly, who claim the homage due to them as 
j ustly now as in the days of old, and prominent among 
these is the wonderful lady, whom Webster imaged to 
himself somewhere about the year 1612, and whom he 
called, in default of any Christian name that could 
properly express her, simply the Duchess ' The Duchess 
ofMalfiV 

The age of ugly heroines had not set in when she was 
born. We see her first as a young and beautiful widow, 
hated by her grasping and envious brothers, Prince 
Ferdinand and the Cardinal, distrusted by her mean, sus- 
picious courtiers, loved only by the very few who knew 
her well. As to her relations with her dead husband, 
Webster observes a significant silence. Shakespeare 
would almost certainly have noticed them, and shown 
how they re-acted on the true crisis of her life, just as he 
touched on Romeo's sentimental love for Rosaline, before 
he saw Juliet ; but Webster leaves us to draw our own 
conclusions from the bare fact that he says nothing 
good, bad, or indifferent. It is often so with him ; he 
leads us to infer whatever it does not suit him to express, 
and his principal figures stand out all the more clearly 



HER GRACE, THE DUCHESS 149 

for their dark background. He is reticent even about 
his hero, the steward, unwilling to put him forward, lest 
the Duchess should suffer so much as a momentary 
eclipse. Excepting for his beautiful description of her 
in Act i., Antonio speaks seldom and briefly ; enough to 
show us that he is a perfect gentleman, and not enough 
to show us much more, but for certain wonderfully fine 
little touches, in which the love that he keeps under lock 
and key peeps forth and will not be hidden. We can 
fancy the eloquent silence of such a man, how he would 
throw himself heart and soul into the Duchess's accounts, 
and keep her books as they were never kept before ; how 
she, a sensitive, highly strung woman, could not fail to 
note this dumb devotion, and rate it at its true value. 
All this is matter of long standing, when the play begins. 
Webster had no business with the soft uncertain hints of 
early love ; his passions are all grown-up, like his 
characters. Young though she be in years, the Duchess 
is old in prudence, and in that absence of girlish coquetry, 
which leads her, knowing that Antonio will never woo 
her of his own accord, to place the ring herself upon his 
finger. It is one of the most ungrateful tasks in the 
world to depict a woman making the first advances to a 
man ; even Shakespeare achieved a very doubtful triumph 
with such a character as Helena in AIVs Well that Ends 
Well. 

There is something absolutely repugnant to good taste 
about the leap-year lady. All the more wonderful for 
its refinement is the scene in which the Duchess of Malfi 
declares her love. All the struggles that it cost her, all 
the womanly shame which almost chokes her utterance at 
the last moment, are in those few words, spoken to her 
maid, Cariola, before Antonio enters. 



150 ESSAYS 

' Good dear soul, 

Leave me ; but place thyself behind the arras, 
Where thou mayst overhear us. Wish me good speed, 
For I am going into a wilderness 
Where I shall find nor path nor friendly clue 
To be my guide.' 

She had told no one what she meant to do, driven to do 
it by the intolerable loneliness of her position, knowing 
that even Cariola would not dare to approve her but do 
it she must and would. Pretending that she wants to 
make a will, she questions Antonio (rather vaguely) about 
the state of her finances. 

' ANT. I '11 fetch your grace the particulars of your 

Revenue and expenses. 
DUCH. Oh, you 're an upright treasurer ; but you mistook, 

For when I said I meant to make inquiry 

What 's laid up for to-morrow, I did mean 

What 's laid up yonder for me. 
ANT. Where? 

DUCH. In Heaven. 

I 'm making my will (as 'tis fit princes should) 

In perfect memory ; and I pray, Sir, tell me 

Were not one better make it smiling thus, 

Than in deep groans and terrible ghastly looks, 

As if the gifts we parted with procured 

That violent distraction ? 

ANT. Oh, much better. 

DUCH. If I had a husband now, this care were quit.' 

Here after the Elizabethan manner, they fence a little 
with puns on the word 'will,'' Antonio counselling her 
to marry again, and to give her husband all, even her 
' excellent self/ 



HER GRACE, THE DUCHESS 151 

' DUCH. St. Winifred, that were a strange will. 
ANT. 'Twere stranger if there were no will in you 

To marry again. 

DUCH. What do you think of marriage ? 

ANT. I take it as those that deny purgatory ; 
It locally contains or heaven or hell. 
There 's no third place in 't. 

DUCH. How do you affect it ? 

ANT. My banishment, feeding my melancholy, 

Would often reason thus. 

DUCH. Pray let us hear it. 

ANT. Say a man never marry, nor have children, 
What takes that from him ? Only the bare name 
Of being a father, or the weak delight 
To see the little wanton ride a cock-horse 
Upon a painted stick, or hear him chatter 
Like a taught starling. 

DUCH. Fie, fie, what 's all this ? 

One of your eyes is blood-shot ; use my ring to't, 
They say 'tis very sovran ; 'twas my wedding ring, 
And I did vow never to part with it 
But to my second husband. 

ANT. You have parted with it now. 

DUCH. Yes, to help your eyesight. 

ANT. You have made me stark blind. 

DUCH. How ? 

ANT. There is a saucy and ambitious devil, 

Is dancing in this circle. 
DUCH. Remove him. 

ANT. How ? 

DUCH. There needs small conjuration when your finger 
May do it ; thus : is it fit ? 

[She puts the ring on hisjinger. 

He Kneels. 

ANT. What said you ? 

DUCH. Sir ! 



152 ESSAYS 

This goodly roof of yours is too low built ! 
I cannot stand upright in't, nor discourse 
Without I raise it higher. Raise yourself 
Or, if you please, my hand to help you ; so. 
ANT. Ambition, madam, is a great man's madness 
That is not kept in chains and close-pent room, 
But in fair lightsome lodgings, and is girt 
With the wild noise of prattling visitants, 
Which makes it lunatic beyond all cure. 
Conceive not I 'm so stupid, but I aim 
Whereto your favours tend ; but he 's a fool 
That, being a-cold, would thrust his hands in the fire 
To warm them. 

So long as she leaves him room to doubt for an instant 
whether she can live without him, he will not take 
advantage of her confession. In generosity, at least, he 
is her equal. As he says himself: 

Were there not heaven nor hell, 

I should be honest ; I have long served virtue. 

And never ta'en wages of her. 

But his grave and noble rejoinder only fires her still 
more, and, with an outburst of magnificent, appealing 
scorn, she flings all vain equivocation to the winds : 

The misery of us that are born great ! 

We are forc'd to woo, because none dare woo us : 

And as a tyrant doubles with his words, 

And fearfully equivocates, so we 

Are forced to express our violent passions 

In riddles, and in dreams, and leave the path 

Of simple virtue, which was never made 

To seem the thing it is not. Go, go, brag 

You have left me heartless : mine is in your bosom ; 

I hope 'twill multiply love there : you do tremble. 



HER GRACE, THE DUCHESS 153 

Make not your heart so dead a piece of flesh, 

To fear more than to love me ; Sir, be confident. 

What is it distracts you ? This is flesh and blood, sir ; 

'Tis not the figure cut in alabaster 

Kneels at my husband's tomb. Awake, awake, man, 

I do here put off all vain ceremony, 

And only do appear to you a young widow. 

I used but half a blush in 't. 

Bless Heaven this sacred Gordiari, which let violence 

Never untwine. 
ANT. And may our sweet affections, like the spheres, 

Be still in motion. 
DUCH. Quickening, and make 

The like soft music. 

It would be difficult anywhere to surpass this scene, 
beginning with delicate raillery, half feigned to hide the 
passion underneath, ending in words that leave us doubt- 
ful with Cariola, ' whether the spirit of greatness, or of 
woman, reign most in her.' 

The second act is the weakest and least interesting in 
the play. The sudden illness of the Duchess, accom- 
panied by other untoward circumstances, raises suspicion 
at Court, and on the night of the child's birth a 
treacherous courtier, Bosola, who has sold himself to 
Prince Ferdinand and the Cardinal, picks up a scheme 
of its nativity which Antonio had carelessly dropped. 
By this clumsy expedient the brothers are made aware 
of their sister's condition, though still ignorant of the 
child's father. It seems as if the genius of Webster, 
overpowering when at its height, lost itself in the petty 
details of an intrigue which many inferior men might 
have rendered less cumbersome. His very wealth of 
imagination stifles him. The simplest and most apparent 



154 ESSAYS 

things cannot be discovered without an altogether dis- 
proportionate outlay of time, tricks and trouble. It is 
like cracking a walnut with the proverbial sledge-hammer. 
Nor does he sufficiently explain the envy of the brothers, 
since, even had their sister died a widow, her son by her 
first husband (whose existence seems to have been con- 
veniently forgotten further on), must, one would think, 
have succeeded to the dukedom. Of course it may be 
said that Webster wrote in the first place for the stage, 
and that on the stage effect is everything and causes 
matter little ; but it is certainly strange that he took 
no pains to correct this and other inaccuracies of the 
same kind, when 'The perfect and exact Copy, with 
diverse things printed, that the length of the Play would 
not beare in the Presentment,' was afterwards given to 
the public. 

A few years of happiness behind the curtain, and the 
tragedy begins again. The Duchess is now the mother 
of three children ; strange rumours are rife about her in 
the Court, but nothing certain has yet been discovered, and 
no one suspects the cold, discreet Antonio. A charming 
scene of light, graceful banter, while Cariola is brushing 
her lady's hair, shows us how free they are from any 
sense of peril. While she is still speaking, Antonio steals 
away unnoticed into an inner chamber, taking Cariola 
with him, for the fun of making her angry. 

DUCH. Doth not the colour of my hair 'gin to change ? 
When I wax grey, I shall have all the Court 
Powder their hair with arras to be like me. 
You have cause to love me ; I entered you into my heart 
Before you would vouchsafe to call for the keys .... 
For know, whether I am doomed to live or die, 
I can do both like a prince. 



HER GRACE, THE DUCHESS 155 

Suddenly Ferdinand bursts upon her, dagger in hand. 
She meets his frantic and violent abuse with a quiet 
declaration that, as she is married already, it does not 
and cannot apply to her, and when his fury rather 
inrceases than subsides, she tries to reason with him in 
the gentle persuasive tones that would naturally befit a 
sister pleading with an angry brother. He is her twin 
brother, her old playfellow ; surely to him she may speak 
as she would deign to speak to no one else. She herself 
gets a little angry, only a little, that he should insult 
her, as if she had committed some great crime by follow- 
ing the dictates of her nature : 

Why should only I, 
Of all the other princes of the world, 
Be cased up like an holy relic ? 
I have youth and a little beauty. 

It is difficult to explain Ferdinand's excessive brutality 
excepting on the ground that he is rather mad already, 
and the audience must be nearly as glad as the Duchess 
when at length he rushes from the room, bidding her 
expiate her dishonour by killing herself with the dagger 
that he leaves behind him. Her one thought is how to 
shield Antonio. She will dismiss him instantly and 
roughly from her service, following him afterwards in 
secret as soon as the coast is clear. She has just time 
to warn him before Bosola enters the room, and she 
begins to act unfortunately to over-act her part. 
Antonio, taking the cue, submits with well-assumed 
dignity, but the practised courtier, comprehending the 
whole situation at a glance, only allows him to escape 
that he may win the heart of the Duchess by his pre- 
tended indignation at the way in which she dismisses her 



156 ESSAYS 

old servant. What could be more straightforward and 
uncourtierlike than his sharp reproof? 

For know an honest statesman to a prince 

Is like a cedar planted by a spring, 

The spring bathes the tree's root, the grateful tree 

Rewards it with his shadow ; you have not done so. 

It gains the Duchess in a moment. With the royal 
generosity of a nature that can do nothing by halves, 
she at once confides to him everything, and yields to his 
treacherous counsel that she should go on pilgrimage to 
Loretto, the better to colour her flight. There is a 
cunning little touch of character in Cariola's objec- 
tion : 

In my opinion 

She were better progress to the baths at Lucca, 
Or go visit the Spa in Germany, for, if you will believe 

me, 

I do not like this jesting with religion, 
This feigned pilgrimage. 

The maid is an excellent foil for the mistress every- 
where; timid and conventional, where she is bold and 
independent ; distrustful, when she is confident ; able to 
hope, when she despairs ; faithful and loving always, the 
very type of an ordinary nature desperately bound to 
follow a much higher one, which it cannot understand. 

Of the many strange things in this play, nearly as 
original in its faults as in its beauty, the scene at Loretto 
is one of the strangest being indeed no scene at all, 
but merely an elaborate dumb-show, by which the 
Cardinal and various other people decree the banishment 
of the Duchess and her family to the accompaniment 



HER GRACE, THE DUCHESS 157 

of ' a ditty,' the authorship of which is modestly dis- 
claimed by Mr. John Webster in the margin. As it is 
not a very striking ditty, we are not surprised at this : 
but the marvellous pathos of the scene which follows can 
only heighten our wonder that he should have turned 
what might have been the central point of his drama 
into a mere bit of pantomime. Of course Bosola over- 
takes the fugitives, and the Duchess is made to accompany 
him back with two of her children, while Antonio and 
the eldest are suffered to escape. 

DUCH. I know not which is best, 

To see you dead or part with you. Farewell, boy, 

Thou art happy that thou hast not understanding 

To know thy misery ; for all our wit 

And reading brings us to a truer sense 

Of sorrow. In the Eternal Church, sir, 

I da hope we shall not part thus. 
ANT. Oh, be of comfort. 

Make patience a noble fortitude. 

And think not how unkindly we are us'd, 

Man (like to cassia) is prov'd best being bruis'd. 
DUCH. Must I, like to a slave-born Russian, 

Account it praise to suffer tyranny ? 

And yet, O Heaven ! thy heavy hand is in 't. 

I have seen my little boy oft scourge his top, 

And compar'd myself to 't : nought made me e'er go right, 

But Heaven's scourge-stick. 
ANT. Do not weep. 

Heaven fashion'd us of nothing, and we strive 

To bring ourselves to nothing. Farewell, Cariola, 

And thy sweet armful. If I do never see thee more, 

Be a good mother to your little ones, 

And save them from the tiger. Fare you well. 
DUCH. Let me look upon you once more, for that speech 



158 ESSAYS 

Came from a dying father. Your kiss is colder 

Than that I have known an holy anchorite 

Give to a dead man's skull. 
ANT. My heart is turned to a heavy lump of lead, 

With which I sound my danger. Fare you well. 
DUCH. My laurel is all withered. 

Can we not hear the very tones in which they speak, 
Us larmes dans la voix, she with her books and flowers 
and little children, he with his masculine dislike of tears, 
and dim, heavy foreboding of worse evils to come? 
Surely the fable about a salmon and a dog-fish with 
which the act concludes must have been one of those 
things which were omitted during 'the presentment.' 
What actress would ever risk marring the effect of an 
intensely pathetic scene by such a queer bit of humour 
as this ? 

A salmon, as she swam unto the sea, 

Met with a dog-fish, who encounters her 

With his rough language : Why art thou so bold 

To mix thyself with our high state of floods ? 

Being no eminent courtier, but one 

That for the calmest and fresh time of the year 

Dost live in shallow rivers, rank'st thyself 

With silly smelts and shrimps, and darest thou 

Pass by our dog-ship without reverence ? 

O (Quoth the salmon) sister, be at peace, 

Thank Jupiter we both have passed the net. 

Our value never can be truly known 

Till in the fisher's basket we be shown : 

In the market then my price may be the higher, 

Even when I am nearest to the cook and fire. 

So to great men the moral may be stretched : 

Men oft are valued high when they are most wretched. 

We cannot imagine that the gifted Mrs. Betterton, 



HER GRACE, THE DUCHESS 159 

who played the part in 1678, ever allowed herself to go 
so far, though perhaps Master R. Sharpe, the first 
Duchess on record, may have managed it. 

But now the plot thickens, the stage grows dark, the 
voices sink to a whisper, as the numbered hours pass 
quickly on to doom. Still the Duchess bears her im- 
prisonment nobly, still her brother's cruelty has not 
availed to break her spirit. If she will not die naturally, 
she must be tortured to death; so much the better. 
Ferdinand comes to visit her in the darkness (having 
sworn never to see her face), and holds out, for her lips 
to kiss, a dead hand, which he feigns to be that of her 
husband. Bosola shows her 'behind a traverse' the 
bodies of Antonio and her children ( 4 fram'd in wax, by 
the curious master in that quality, Vincentio Lauriola'). 
No cry, no lamentation does she utter. The sight 
freezes the blood in her veins, she cannot faint, nor 
weep away her ice-bound anguish ; nothing but death 
can help her : 

Bos. Come, you must live. . . . 

DUCH. Good comfortable fellow, 

Persuade a wretch that 's broke upon the wheel 

To have all his bones new set, intreat him live 

To be executed again. Who must despatch me ? 

I account this world a tedious theatre, 

For I do play a part in 't 'gainst my will. 
Bos. Come, be of comfort, I will save your life. 
DUCH. Indeed I have not leisure to attend 

So small a business. 

I will go pray. No : I '11 go curse. 

She speaks wildly, yet with a certain restraint that 
never lets us forget she is ' Duchess of Malfi still. 1 Once 
before, when she was helping her husband to escape, 



160 ESSAYS 

she quoted Tasso, now she remembers Portia. In her 
old artificial life alone in the Court, books had been her 
only reality ; now in the tremendous realities of her own 
life they came back to her. Wonderful indeed is this 
picture of a mind hovering on the edge of madness, yet 
still intact : 

DUCH. What hideous noise was that ? 

CAR. 'Tis the wild concert 

Of madmen, lady, which your tyrant brother 

Hath placed about your lodging : this tyranny 

I think was never practised till this hour. 
DUCH. Indeed I thank him ; nothing but noise and folly 

Can keep me in my right wits, whereas reason 

And silence make me stark mad ; sit down, 

Discourse to me some dismal tragedy. 
CAR. O 'twill increase your melancholy. 
DUCH. Thou art deceived, 

To hear of greater grief would lessen mine. 

This is a prison ? 
CAR. Yes : but thou shalt live 

To shake this durance off. 
DUCH. Thou art a fool. 

The robin red-breast and the nightingale 

Never live long in cages. 
CAR. Pray dry your eyes. 

What think you of, madam ? 
DUCH. Of nothing. 

When I muse thus, I sleep. 
CAR. Like a madman, with your eyes open ? 
DUCH. Dost thou think we shall know one another 

In the other world ? 

CAR. Yes, out of question. 

DUCH. O that it were possible we might 

But hold some two days' conference with the dead, 

From them I should learn somewhat I am sure 






HER GRACE, THE DUCHESS 161 

I never shall know here. I '11 tell thee a miracle ; 
I am not mad yet, to my cause of sorrow. 
Th' heaven o'er my head seems made of molten brass, 
The earth of flaming sulphur, yet I am not mad : 
I am acquainted with sad misery, 
As the tanned galley-slave is with his oar ; 
Necessity makes me suffer constantly, 
And custom makes it easy. Who do I look like now ? 
CAR. Like to your picture in the gallery ; 
A deal of life in show, but none in practice : 
Or rather like some reverend monument 
Whose ruins are even pitied. 

Even yet she has not suffered enough. The madmen 
are let loose into the room to play their horrid gambols 
before her sleepless eyes, and deafen her with their 
wild songs and shrieks. As they are retiring, Bosola, 
disguised as an old man, enters to dig her grave. 
Apparently she recognises him after the first moment, 
for her dignified 

Am I not thy duchess ? 

would seem to recall the former passages between them. 
She has lost all sense of fear nay, even of that solemn 
awe which sometimes takes the place of fear at the last 
hour. Nothing shows the intensity of her grief more 
than her complete indifference : 

DUCH. And thou comest to make my tomb ? 
Bos. Yes. 

DUCH. Let me be a little merry. 

Of what stuff wilt thou make it ? 
Bos. Nay, resolve me first, of what fashion ? 
DUCH. What ! do we grow fantastical in our death-bed ? 

Do we affect fashion in the grave ? 
Bos. Most ambitiously ; princes' images on their tombs do 

not lie as they were wont, seeming to pray up to 
L 



162 ESSAYS 

heaven ; but with their hands under their cheeks (as if 

they died of the toothache). They are not carved with 

their eyes fixed upon the stars ; but as their minds were 

wholly bent upon the world, the self-same way they seem 

to turn their faces. . . . 

[A coffin, cords, and a bell, produced, 

Here is a present from your princely brother, 

And may it arrive welcome, for it brings 

Last benefit, last sorrow. 
DUCH. Let me see it. 

I have so much obedience in my blood, 

I wish it in their veins to do them good 
Bos. This is your last presence chamber. 
CAR. O my sweet lady. 
DUCH. Peace ; it affrights not me. 

It is the e nothing can hurt me now ' of Marie Antoinette. 
Calmly she listens to her dirge, assisting at her own 
funeral before she dies. The naive horror of it strikes 
chill, like a deep expression on the lips of a child : 

DIRGE 

'Hark, now everything is still ; 

This screech-owl and the whistler shrill, 

Call upon our dame aloud, 

And bid her quickly don her shroud. 

Much you had of land and rent ; 

Your length in clay's now competent. 

A long war disturb'd your mind, 

Here your perfect peace is sign'd. 

Of what is 't fools make such vain keeping ? 

Sin, their conception ; their birth, weeping. 

Their life a general mist of error. 

Their death a hideous storm of terror. 

Strew your hair with powders sweet, 

Don clean linen, bathe your feet 



HER GRACE, THE DUCHESS 163 

And (the foul fiend more to check) 

A crucifix let bless your neck. 

'Tis now full tide 'tween night and day ; 

End your groan, and come away. 
CAR. Hence, villains, tyrants, murderers : alas ! 

What will you do with my lady ? Call for help. 
DUCH. To whom ? to our next neighbours ? They are mad 
folks ! 

Farewell, Cariola. 

I pray thee look thou giv'st my little boy 

Some syrup for his cold ; and let the girl 

Say her pray'rs ere she sleep. Now what you please ? 

What death ? 

Bos. Strangling. Here are your executioners. 
DUCH. I forgive them. 

The apoplexy, catarrh, or cough o' the lungs, 

Would do as much as they do. 
Bos. Doth not death fright you ? 
DUCH. Who would be afraid on 't, 

Knowing to meet such excellent company 

In th' other world ? 
Bos. Yet methinks 

The manner of your death should much afflict you ; 

This cord should terrify you. 
DUCH. Not a whit. 

What would it pleasure me to have my throat cut 

With diamonds ? or to be smothered 

With cassia ? or to be shot to death with pearls ? 

I know death hath ten thousand several doors 

For men to take their exits ; and 'tis found 

They go on such strange geometrical hinges 

You may open them both ways : any way (for Heaven's 
sake) 

So I were out of your whispering. Tell my brothers 

That I perceive death now I 'm well awake 

Best gift is they can give or I can take. 



164 ESSAYS 

I would fain put off my last woman's fault ; 

I 'd not be tedious to you. 

Pull, and pull strongly, for your able strength 

Must pull down heaven upon me. 

Yet stay, heaven's gates are not so highly arched 

As princes' palaces ; they that enter there 

Must go upon their knees. Come, violent death, 

Serve for mandragora to make me sleep. 

Go tell my brothers, when I am laid out, 

They then may feed in quiet. 

[They strangle her kneeling. Ferdinand enters. 
FERD. Is she dead ? 

Bos. She is what you would have her. 

Fix your eye here. 
FEED. Constantly. 

Bos. Do you not weep ? 

Other sins only speak, murder shrieks out. 

The element of water moistens the earth, 

But blood flies upwards and bedews the heavens. 
FERD. Cover her face mine eyes dazzle she died young. 

She was beyond fear, but her woman's nerves remained 
to her ; she felt they must give way if the strain lasted 
much longer. She had borne the cries of the madmen, 
but she could not bear this ' whispering ' about her ; it 
made her nervously eager for the last horrible moment. 
Rest, rest was all she wanted ; let them give it her 
quickly. 

A modern writer would have had the play end here in 
the silence and darkness of the chamber of death, but 
Webster and Co. were not artists in the modern sense of 
the word. Their villains were not mere bits of wicked- 
ness contrived to throw into relief the virtues of the 
innocent and then sink back into the nothingness from 
which they came, but flesh and blood, and as such to be 



HER GRACE, THE DUCHESS 165 

punished, at the risk of outraging the moral feelings of 
the audience. Furthermore, they saw that after any 
dreadful deed the world went on its way very much as 
usual ; that a curtain did not fall for ever on the perpe- 
trators of it ; that the vacant place was filled up some- 
how ; and it was this great truth of continuity which they 
sought to impress by leading our thoughts on to the 
future. It shows a change in the temper of the English 
people that the last scene of Hamlet should never be 
acted now. In those old days the fall of a monarch was 
nothing compared to the fall of monarchy, which would 
have thrown too deep a shadow even for tragedy. At 
any cost there must be a successor to the throne. The 
Duchess of Malfi fulfils both these conditions. It would 
be tedious to follow the web of plot within plot which 
gradually brings about the mutual murder and assassina- 
tion of the Cardinal's mistress, of Antonio, of the Car- 
dinal himself, of Ferdinand, and of Bosola, but there is 
one exquisite scene in which Antonio, walking uncon- 
sciously near to his wife's grave, is made to hear the echo 
taking her voice : 

DEL. Hark, the dead stones seem to have pity on you, 

And give you good counsel. 
ANT. Echo, I will not talk with thee, 

For thou art a dead thing. 
ECHO. Thou art a dead thing. 
ANT. My Duchess is asleep now, 

And her little ones, I hope, sweetly. O Heaven, 

Shall I never see her more ? 
ECHO. Never see her more. 
ANT. I marked not one repetition of the Echo 

But that ; and on a sudden a clear light 

Presented me a face folded in sorrow ! 
DEL. Your fancy merely. 



166 ESSAYS 

How well the old playwrights understood that sense of 
foreboding, the very existence of which many people in a 
less robust age are willing to call in question ! 

The Cardinal^ last soliloquy over his Dante has a 
touch of grimly irresistible humour that reminds one of 
the fantastic devils of some ancient German artist : 

I am puzzled in a question about hell. 

He says in hell there 's one material fire, 

And yet it shall not burn all men alike. 

Lay him by. How tedious is a guilty conscience ! 

When I look into the fishponds in my garden 

Methinks I see a thing armed with a rake 

That seems to strike at me. 

On the whole, my Lord Ferdinand, with his laugh, ' like 
a deadly cannon that lightens ere it smokes ,' is excelled 
in wickedness by my Lord Cardinal, who never laughs at 
all. Ferdinand had the grace to go mad after his sister's 
death at any rate, but the Cardinal seems to have felt no 
ill effects whatever, except the trifling little vision afore- 
said. 

Quiet and brief are the closing words of this great 
tragedy. No sentimental moralising, no weak appeal to 
pity, no feeble buttressing about of virtue with paste- 
board-angels ; by her own right she stands. 

MAL. Oh, sir, you come too late. 

DEL. I heard so, and 

Was arm'd for 't ere I came. Let us make noble use 

Of this great ruin, and join all our force 

To establish this young hopeful gentleman 

In's mother's right. These wretched eminent things 

Leave no more fame behind 'em than should one 

Fall in a frost, and leave his print in snow ; 



HER GRACE THE DUCHESS 167 

As soon as the sun shines, it ever melts 

Both form and matter ; I have ever thought 

Nature doth nothing so great for great men 

As when she 's pleas'd to make them lords of truth. 

Integrity of life is fame's best friend, 

Which nobly (beyond death) shall crown the end. 

We know almost nothing of the life and death of John 
Webster. No monument, however humble, rises over his 
tomb, no hie jacet points to his last resting-place. It 
was Thomas Middleton who, with a true prescience of 
the things that pass away and the things that endure, 
wrote over his friend's f maisterpeece ' : 

Thy Epitaph only the Title bee, 

Write Dutchesse, that will fetch a teare for thee. 



168 ESSAYS 



[1886] 
ON NOISES 1 

IT is an open question whether musicians are fonder of 
noise than other people. They themselves would, per- 
haps, answer it in the negative. ' So noisy ! ' is considered 
one of their very severest verdicts ; and if an unmusical 
person happens to like something they disapprove of, 
they will often give this as the reason, being apparently 
of opinion that noise has nothing to do with music, 
properly so called. Yet what is music itself but the 
art of making a refined kind of noise, subject to certain 
rules ? Music which can be only taken in by the eye, 
and is audible to the mind alone, remains unintelligible 
excepting to a few. No doubt those few hear melodies 
more wonderful than any that ever were 'by mortal 
finger struck.' I have heard a composer say that the 
more keenly he felt the delight of writing out the music 
that was in him, the more keenly he disliked the instru- 
ments, which were a kind of unhappy mean between the 
pure beauty of his own conception, and the ignorance of 
those who could only be made to know it through their 
ears. We need not much regret the deafness of Beethoven ; 
and it is most unnecessary to pity Sebastian Bach because 
his greatest work was never performed during his life- 
time. Still, it remains true that to the world in general 
music that is not heard is nothing. It might just as 
1 From The Musical World, 1886. 



ON NOISES 169 

\ 

well not exist. Certainly this is hard on the composer. 
He cannot speak to us directly, as every other artist 
can ; he must speak through others, and his best speech 
may fail, because others (or their instruments) have not 
good voices. It is just conceivable that in future ages 
men may come to read music as many of them have come 
to read plays, and to say, with a superior air, ' Oh, do 
you really like to go and hear Fidelio ? It is so vulgarised 

by (the Tietjens of the period), I much prefer to 

study it at home. 1 That will be a golden age for com- 
posers, if any chance to exist ; but more likely they will 
all have disappeared j ust as the ungrateful world is ready 
to do them the most absolute justice. Meanwhile, let 
us make noises, and be happy. It is such a nice, human 
thing noise ! Surely it was a happy dispensation 
which married it to the most abstract of all the arts. 
There are times when it is inconvenient ; there are times 
when it is agonising. The squeak of a slate pencil, a 
pig, a violin in the hands of a young gentleman of tender 
age one's nerves thrill at the bare recollection. 

Still, taking it all in all, what should we do without 
it? Even the squeak of the violin is dear to the heart 
of the young gentleman who perpetrates it. Even the 
pig finds it a relief to his feelings to express them in 
that unutterably hideous sound. The slate pencil alone 
would seem to be equally hated of gods and men. People 
who are not mothers can scarcely be expected to feel it, 
but it is actually asserted on credible authority, that the 
sweetest music to a mother's ear even if she has a good 
one is the cry of her newborn infant. And the cries 
of people in the streets, who were not infants, delighted 
that quietest of spirits, Charles Lamb. 

True, there was one man, Schopenhauer, the grim 



170 ESSAYS 

philosopher, who hated women, who hated noises also 
did not merely pretend to hate them as some do, but 
hated them with a good, honest, downright hatred. He 
said they murdered his thoughts. He accused them, also, 
of murdering the thoughts of five other great people, viz., 
Brentano, Kant, Goethe, Lichtenstein, and Jean Paul. 
He went so far as to say that complaints of them were 
to be found in the biographies or personal recollections 
of almost all great writers. His description of the suffer- 
ings he underwent from the cracking of whips would melt 
the heart, even of a cabman. He said it cut right 
through his meditations, like a sword dividing the head 
from the body. 'That such an infamous thing should 
be tolerated in any town is barbarous and unjust in the 
extreme ; all the more, as it could easily be avoided by 
ordering the police to see that there was a knot at the 
end of every lash. ... If I were in authority, I would 
establish a permanent nexus idearum between the crack- 
ing of whips and flogging, in the heads of the drivers. 1 
Poor Schopenhauer ! Was it not enough for him to see 
everything en noir, but must he hear it en noir also? 
The violent slamming of doors also troubled him greatly. 
He would have sympathised with that printer who, not 
being acquainted with the expression ' banging gales, 1 as 
applied to rent, misprinted a sentence in one of the news- 
papers, ' The cause of all the mischief in Ireland is the 
banging gates." 1 

Infinite silence hath a magnificent sound also in the 
mouth of Carlyle, but if, in a future life he should be 
found inhabiting the Moon Circle of Paradise, that 
absolutely soundless sphere, he will perhaps have modified 
his opinions. Outside our own selves, there is nothing 
so pleasant, so genial, so friendly, as a noise. The 



ON NOISES 171 

sounds, even more than the sights we are accustomed 
to; the familiar voices, even more than familiar faces, 
pass into our very being, and become one with us. Those 
who have lived by the sea, or in some great city, cannot 
forget the strange murmur wherever they may go. They 
listen for it instinctively ; they miss it, scarcely knowing 
what they miss, till they return to it again. Sometimes 
they will tell you they cannot sleep, because everything 
is so quiet. And then, there is the romantic side of 
noise. Echo will lend it the curious charm that reflection 
lends to an ordinary object. The sighing of the wind 
among the trees, the whisper of the waves in a shell 
how these have set a poet's fancy going. Others have 
loved the crackling of the fire on a frosty evening, the 
monody of the tea-kettle, the chirp of the cricket on the 
hearth. But if there was one who more than any felt the 
full charm of all those different noises, little and great, 
which make the chorus of life, that one was the first 
musician of his day the first composer, too, who claimed 
distinctly for himself the title of poet. The whirr of a 
spinning-wheel, the tap of a cobbler's hammer, the cracked 
notes of an old watchman, he did not fear to spoil his 
daintiest music with such things as these. He loved the 
ringing strokes of the sledge upon the anvil ; his burning 
thoughts kept tune with them. Prisoning the fire in his 
wand, like another Prometheus, he let the flames burst 
forth again to make a rosy ring around his sleeping lady, 
or flashed them in lightning through the tempests that 
only he could raise. Not in vain had he watched the 
Wild Huntsman, and heard the rain fall lightly on the 
forest leaves ; and to the storm and stress of nature 
without, joining the storm and stress of the fiery nature 
within him, he sent his Walkyries riding abroad upon 



172 ESSAYS 

the very wings of the wind. The rush and dash of waves, 
the calm flowing of a river, the gradual rising of a flood 
who could portray it as he could? Yet, perhaps, the 
dearest thing to him was the noise of birds singing, the 
hum of insects whirring, stirring, buzzing in a wood. 
' Under the greenwood tree, Who loves to lie with me ? "* 
sang Shakespeare. It was Wagner who loved to lie there 
too, and listen. Avaunt, ye geographers ! Siegfried and 
Orlando wandered in the same forest. 



MORE WORLDS THAN ONE 173 



[1888] 
MORE WORLDS THAN ONE 1 

'TEA, in cups with handles and saucers, was handed 
round by servants in black dress suits, with white ties.' 

Who would have thought it possible to describe a 
tea-party in a new and striking manner ? Yet Miss 
Bird has done it. If she had lived when tea cost nine- 
teen shillings a pound, she could not have pictured a 
gathering in honour of that beverage with more origin- 
ality. We almost feel as if we were reading about some- 
thing we had never heard of before. We are in Japan 
with her for the moment. European tea is a strange 
and foreign thing. We are not accustomed to it in cups 
with saucers and handles to them. 

People who are at all sympathetic by nature are often 
curiously influenced by their surroundings. It is said 
that an Englishman who has lived long in the East, away 
from his fellow-countrymen, sinks at last into the very 
depths of Oriental degradation. Lady Hester Stanhope 
was an odd person. As things were, Mr. Kinglake 
enjoyed his visit to her, but he could hardly have enjoyed 
it anywhere but in the East. Live in a Cathedral town 
for a week and you will come to feel that the Dean is the 
most important person in England, and that the one object 
of life is not to be late for Evensong at the Minster. 
1 From The Reflector, March 1888. 



174 ESSAYS 

But these are only temporary phases of existence. We 
may go once in a way to Japan, the desert, or the Cathe- 
dral town, but they are not ours to frequent as we will, 
whenever we get too dull for ourselves, and are driven to 
seek refreshment elsewhere. What matter? there are 
three whole worlds at our disposal : the world that is, of 
which we know something; the world that will be, of 
which we know nothing ; and the world that never was 
and never will be, about which we know everything. 
Some live entirely in one, some in another ; the happiest 
people have the range of all three. At one time or the 
other we have most of us inhabited the third. We have 
made fortunes and friends in it, we have married wives 
in it, we hold a great deal of Spanish property there. 
Sometimes we go thither under feigned names. There 
have been Dukes of Wellington who never fought at 
Waterloo, and bloodless victories over nobody and 
nothing, the results of which were unspeakably gratifying 
to the winner of them. There have been picture-gal- 
leries, theatres, libraries, racecourses in that world, the 
like of which was never seen below. It is a lovely world, 
all rose and rainbow colour. Everything is possible 
there, and everybody succeeds. It is a kind of practical 
workaday heaven, to which we go without even the 
expense of being good beforehand. Many of the women 
there are men and all men are heroes. The right 
person does the right thing always. There are no fogs. 

Unreality attracts certain minds, as money attracts the 
miser, rank the baseborn, heroic death the young. The 
unreal denizens of that world are to some people dearer 
than flesh and blood. Not to all. ' So natural, so real] 
say the people who live in world No. 1, when they read 
story-books ; but they speak falsely. Life is not a story- 



MORE WORLDS THAN ONE 175 

book, or no stories need ever be written. Who wants to 
read when he is at the play ? There is nothing so incon- 
sistent, so inartistic as reality. Humorous it may be, 
and pathetic more humorous and more pathetic than 
any story that was ever written but quite without that 
strange power of pleasing and satisfying, which is the 
property of things and people that never were. A may 
die, B may marry, C may get an appointment in China ; 
but the health of dear Di Vernon never gives me one 
day's uneasiness, Rose Jocelyn will let me ride with her 
when I will, Dorothea Brooke is always at home to me. 
It may be thought that this society is too exclusively 
feminine. The lovers of these ladies might no doubt be 
as interesting as they are, if I cared to visit them ; but I 
do not. A feeling of jealousy comes over me. I know I 
could have made every one of the sweet creatures (and 
how many more besides ?) happier than that conceited 
fop Frank Osbaldistone, that free-and-easy weathercock 
Will Ladislaw, that irreproachable tailor-gentleman 
Evan Harrington. Luckily there is safety in numbers. 
I sometimes pass them all in review, wondering which I 
should have chosen had fortune given me a choice in any 
world except the third. Beatrice frightens me a little, 
but when I think of her at the other end of my dinner- 
table, Browning, Leighton, and Mr. Gladstone listening 
delightedly to her remarks, I am a proud and happy man. 
Rosalind would be perfection for a week in the New 
Forest at Easter. Portia would mean exile. One can- 
not imagine her out of Belmont ; but she would be a 
charming winter wife. Miss Harriet Byron is too good 
for me. I do not aspire to such a saint. But the 
naughty and fascinating Lady Charlotte G. might take 
me to Church to-morrow, even after I had fully con- 



176 ESSAYS 

sidered the awful responsibility of becoming Sir Charles 
Grandison's brother-in-law. Elizabeth Bennet I cannot 
away with. I would not have married her to save my 
life, or on a desert island. Emilia in The Mysteries of 
Udolpho had, as Sir Walter Scott remarks, too great a 
tendency to drop into verses addressed to a bat. Nor is 
it possible to care much about his own heroines, except- 
ing always the aforesaid Di Vernon, and Green Mantle in 
Redgauntlet, to whom I would willingly offer, in the 
words of Heine 

' Das wenig Herz das mir gelassen 
Ihre Vergangerin im Reich. 1 

1 ' The Greeks, sir, had a great respect for the Number Three,' said 
my friend, when I read him this essay. He also quoted a remark of 
Oliver Wendell Holmes about length, breadth, and height. 



THE MAKING OF HEROINES 177 



[1888] 
THE MAKING OF HEROINES l 

I BELIEVE I am quite capable of being a hero : but 
so far as I know, I am not one; and I want to have 
some good way suggested to me of occupying that 
desirable position. After all, this, if any, is the age 
when Sancho Panza (or Mrs. Panza for that matter) 
seems to have a good chance of enjoying, at all events 
for a time, the position and reputation which even Don 
Quixote found so hard to obtain in days when chivalry 
had already gone out, and interviewers had not yet come 
in. Everybody must have noticed that celebrated people 
nowadays, especially celebrated ladies, have nearly as 
many lives as a Kilkenny cat. They are born, they are 
married, they die over and over again, in the columns of 
newspapers and in the pages of biographers. Even 
before their natural decease, they very often live in a 
world of looking-glass, which reflects all their most 
important actions or their least important, as the case 
may be for the benefit of the outside world. 

It was not always so. Mrs. William Shakespeare's 
sufferings may, in her different sphere, have equalled 
Mrs. Carlyle's, and she may have been just as cross and 
just as clever, but no one of her husband's friends was 
entrusted with the unpleasant duty of describing her 
conjugal adventures for the edification of posterity. We 
1 From The Reflector, March 1888. 
M 



178 ESSAYS 

know next to nothing of those much -to-be-pi tied young 
women, the daughters of Milton, and what little we do 
know does not redound to their credit. Had they but 
lived a couple of hundred years later, we should, no 
doubt, have possessed an interesting work entitled ' The 
Real John Milton," of which they were the suffering 
heroines. Let all downtrodden wives and daughters of 
the genus irritabile vatum take courage ! Their day was 
long in coming, but it has come at last. A strong 
character must that be indeed which can stand the glare 
of light thus flung on it from all sides. The results of 
different treatment are sometimes as perceptible as those in 
varying portraits of the same person. One artist is per- 
fectly convinced that the eyes were pale blue; another 
would go to the stake for the opinion that they were dark 
brown. It is a rare thing when the subject is too striking 
to admit of any mistake. Mrs. Gaskell, Mr. Reid, and Mr. 
Birrell are three very different people, but Charlotte Bronte 
is much the same in all their pictures. It has been wittily 
said, that every individual stands really for three him- 
self, the self he thinks himself, and the self somebody 
else thinks him. She seems to have been one of the 
very few who cherish no illusions on their own account , 
and permit none to be cherished by others. She had 
one good strong self, and she stuck to it, and stamped it 
indelibly upon her every word and action. 

What befalls celebrated people invariably after their 
death, and frequently during their life, befalls common- 
place people only at rare intervals and at certain crises. 
Few of us have strength of mind enough to make heroes 
of ourselves, but once or twice at least, in the course of 
our existence, events make heroes of us in our own 
despite. The first Mrs. Dombey, had she 'made an 



THE MAKING OF HEROINES 179 

effort,' would never have been the first Mrs. Dombey. 
Circumstances, we know, rendered it impossible, and 
those circumstances made her immortal ; but she is only 
cited as an extreme case. Woman is, as a rule, quicker 
to take advantage of her life than man ; she is less 
passive. Man at a crisis unless it be a crisis of war 
is a stupid thing. He either makes a fool of himself, or 
allows the world to make a fool of him, from which fate 
woman is preserved by her innate self-respect, and by a 
certain capacity which she possesses for making the most 
of emotion. A bridegroom is either the silliest or the 
most miserable of mortals, but marriage can always 
make a heroine out of the least heroic of women. She 
is the centre of attraction, for the time being. Every- 
thing is forgiven her, on account of the ordeal through 
which she has to pass. Her married friends pity her. 
Her unmarried friends envy either her or the bridegroom, 
as the case may be. Her will is law. Her prospects 
and her presents are the subject of conversation among 
all her acquaintance. She is obliged to take the opinion 
of the whole household, from Grandmamma down to the 
lady's maid, as to the fit of her wedding-gown. No one 
spares her blushes about the ring. Every one says ' Poor 
thing ! ' if the height of the bride does not absolutely 
forbid it, ' Poor little thing ! ' The borderland between 
Miss and Mrs., especially the extreme verge of the 
borderland, has an odd fascination. Some people, like 
Racine, always cry at a wedding. Sir Thomas Browne, 
we know, thought it a far more solemn thing than death. 
It is, at any rate, a crisis, whether from the lady's maid's 
point of view or Racine's. 

Some are made heroes of (most unwillingly) by a fire 
a burglary, a mad dog, or the small-pox. It is a mistake 



180 ESSAYS 

to suppose that success ever makes heroes. A certain 
element of melancholy is almost always needful. The 
Archbishop of Canterbury is not a hero, unless he has 
to go to prison. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is 
not a hero, unless he is compelled to offer up his lofty 
position on the altar of his country. 

It is appalling to think how full the world is of inter- 
mittent, involuntary, nameless and numberless heroes 
and heroines. I know at least nineteen, and my 
acquaintance is limited. I have never yet been a hero 
in my own person, but I comfort myself with the old 
saying, ' While there is life, there is hope/ 



TRAVELLERS' TALES 181 



[1891] 
TRAVELLERS 1 TALES 1 

THAT the Spring is the season for wandering, who that 
has ever understood the signs of the times will doubt ? 
The Winter is house-keeping time house-keeping time 
in town, if possible with fires, and lamps, and books. 
The Summer is garden time, among the roses and straw- 
berries. The Autumn is too sad to think about at all. 
But the Spring is the time to wander. ' Try something 
new ! ' says the old earth, and puts out all her new flowers 
and leaves to tempt us, and to fill us with strange melan- 
choly, that is more than half longing a kind of home- 
sickness for distant lands. The very air tells us, in soft 
balmy whispers, how the myrtles and orange-trees are 
blossoming over the sea ; the swallows come again, from far, 
far away, ' und ich, ich schnure den Sack und wandere.' 

Once more the Heavenly Power 
Makes all things new. 

The old earth has something of the tenderness and beauty 
of a young mother. 

There are few things more delightful than travelling, 
to those who really enjoy it. But people are born 
travellers, as they are born poets, painters and musicians. 
' Thursday's bairn hath far to go,' says the old rhyme, 
and Thursday's bairn, and Thursday's bairn only, enjoys 
1 From The Monthly Packet, August 1891. 



182 ESSAYS 

it. Some men might go from the world's beginning 
north (I do not know why, but I am quite sure the world 
began north) to the world's end south, and never get out 
of England the whole time. For unless you travel in 
the spirit as well as in the body, you get but a little 
way ; and there are people (Prue and I for example) who, 
scarcely stirring from their own fireside, have yet gone 
further than many a * 'mercial ' that knows Bradshaw by 
heart. Even an undeveloped genius for travelling will 
do wonders. What did not the hero and heroine of 
Their Wedding Journey accomplish, by the mere deter- 
mination to treat their native land as if it were a foreign 
country ? 

What fine fellows are the great explorers, from 
Columbus to Greeley ! With what magnificent chivalry 
do they go forth to fight the sun, the sea, the snow, 
that they may win new lands, new light for the world ! 
My lady Science hath her martyrs among them, not 
saints indeed, but men as grand, as brave and as enduring. 
The traveller is certainly not a martyr ; yet doth he feel 
a little sting of the same spirit within him, and his small 
discoveries are to him an America. For to travel any- 
where intelligently is to discover for yourself, if not for 
any one else ; and the Undiscovered Country lies not only 
in the heart of Africa, nor round the Poles. Who, for 
instance, discovered Yorkshire before Charlotte Bronte ? 

There are people who ought to be paid to travel, they 
do it so well. Miss Bird * is one of these. She is such 

1 Now, however, this lady has a more than dangerous rival in the 
author of A Social Departure. The vivid, yet reposeful effect of certain 
aspects of Eastern colouring, the freshness, and the familiarity of 
certain aspects of Eastern life, are described with still greater delicacy 
in a small, unpretending volume, recently published, called Pilgrims in 
Palestine. 



TRAVELLERS' TALES 183 

excellent company in Japan, that we could almost find it 
in our hearts, even at the end of her two fat volumes, to 
wish she had stayed there a month longer. Hers are no 
sentimental journeys ; she does not burst into lyrics, and 
nobody ever tries to murder her ; but she has good eyes, 
and she uses them. And then Miss Bird is such a 
charming name for a traveller ! Fate clearly had some- 
thing to do with it. Heresy though it be to say so, her 
travels are much better reading than Goethe's. The 
strange influence that Italy exercised over him is to be 
learnt from other sources ; but if he fled to her like a 
lover, he described her like the coldest of connoisseurs. 
He and George Eliot after him seem to have been 
afflicted with a tendency to rival the best guide-books in 
their possession that is perfectly maddening. If it were 
not for Kennst du das Land, and for the pictures of 
Florence in Romola, they certainly might have been paid 
to stay at home. One sighs to think what poor Frau von 
Stein had to wade through, every time that she got a 
letter. Heine, on the other hand, was an ideal traveller. 
Perhaps the nightingales sing a thought too often, and 
the moonlight is now and then excessive, but still his is 
the magic music, and whither he goes we follow him, as 
the children followed the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Some 
people, in whom one might have suspected the latent 
traveller, disappoint one terribly. Of this number is 
Hawthorne, whose note-books are redeemed from the 
utter flatness of Goethe's and George Eliot's only by 
those occasional odd touches that make everything that 
he wrote characteristic. What does he think of in the 
Louvre ? He does not seem to care for one of the great 
pictures. He passes ' Mona Lisa ' by ' Mona Lisa,' 
whom he alone of all men, since Leonardo, could have 



184 ESSAYS 

understood. Instead, he fancies grimly, what a scene 
there would be, if all the dead came back to claim his or 
her own relic, the dagger the bracelet the brooch, 
from its particular glass case. 

French, Germans, Americans, see things with very 
different eyes. Kinglake is the most English of travellers. 
The chivalry, the detestation of humbug, the quiet, 
practical, foolhardy courage of a typical English gentle- 
man, are all represented in Eothen. Who that has ever 
read that wonderful book, can forget the whirl of feeling 
about the Virgin Mary the passing of the other English- 
man on camel-back, in the desert, without a word, the 
wilful risk of life, merely for the excitement of staying in 
a plague-stricken city ? These things are, in their way, 
national. Perhaps only the English can understand 
them. Laurence Oliphant, at his best, gives one the 
same delightful sensations. 

* There is a sense, of course, in which all true books are 
books of travel.' So writes the traveller, whom, of all 
others, he that goes forth with eyes eager to see, would 
choose for his companion. Modestine was a happy 
animal, if she had but known it. Treasure Island is a 
good book, but some people would give ten Treasure 
Islands for one Inland Voyage. It seems almost a pity, 
that any one who can describe real life thoroughly well 
should ever do anything else. There are so many who 
can fly a little ; so few who know how to talk, or how 
to manage a boat in print. Here is at last a writer of 
fiction, whose journeying is something more than an 
inferior episode in his novels. He is himself his own 
best hero; we would rather know what he thinks and 
feels, we would rather hear what grieved, amused, en- 
dangered him, than anything else that he can tell us. 



TRAVELLERS 1 TALES 185 

Dickens, who could make a hero, tragic or comic, out of 
any one, had not this faculty, or had it not in perfection. 
In the Italian notes, for instance, we cannot but feel that 
he would rather be telling, and we would much rather 
be hearing, a story. Either he bored himself, or else he 
did not pay us the compliment of being quite frank with 
us, and put on spectacles, when he wanted to see things 
for the public. So, too, Scott's diary, deeply interesting 
when he speaks of himself in private, becomes positively 
dull when he takes a voyage I suppose, because he then 
wrote consciously for others. 

Stevenson is very matter-of-fact about his mental 
experiences. Apparently 

He thinks it something less than vain, 
What has been done, to do again. 

All roads, it is said, lead to Rome ; but Robert Louis's 
do not. He goes to odd little out-of-the-way places, and 
he goes in queer ways of his own, that are not in the 
least dangerous or extraordinary, but only very amusing. 
He takes a donkey or a canoe. The deliberate cheerful- 
ness with which he surmounts every difficulty rises 
unconsciously to the level of courage, and the reader is 
surprised and altogether delighted to find that, while he 
thought he was merely laughing, he is really admiring. 
And then Stevenson has plucked out the heart of the 
matter. ' To travel hopefully,' says he, ' is better than 
to arrive.' 



186 ESSAYS 



[1906] 
MRS. GASKELL 1 

ALMOST a hundred years have passed away since Mrs. 
Gaskell was born, and the lustre of her fame is yet 
undimmed. She was no wild poet of love among the 
moors like Charlotte Bronte, no learned professor of the 
analytical arts and sciences like George Eliot; but the 
special graces of womanhood are hers rather than theirs, 
and it was not without reason that Dickens called her 
his ' Scheherazade,' for the innate gift of storytelling is 
greater in her than in her sisters. Charlotte Bronte 
swept the world away in the storm of her passion ; 
George Eliot conquered it with the power of under- 
standing; Mrs. Gaskell forced it to weep for pity, 
charmed it with the sunny wit of a lady who was never 
in all her life mistaken for a man, even when she signed 
herself Cotton Mather Mills, Esq. She did not write 
at first because she must, but because she would. The 
sufferings of the poor had entered into her soul like 
iron. She felt them as Dickens and Kingsley felt them ; 
she threw her strength into a mighty effort for peace 
not on compulsion for Christianity, not for compromise. 
The fairness and sweetness of Mai~y Barton make it 
the noble thing it is. She never for an instant would 
admit that bitterness could be right. She did not 
justify the bitterness of the poor, though she pointed 
1 From the Times Literary Supplement, I4th September 1906. 



MRS. GASKELL 187 

out to the rich what had caused that bitterness. It is 
not only by taking a gun and shooting some one that a 
man breaks the commandment, 'Thou shalt do no 
murder ' : yet, if he breaks it thus, he makes himself the 
equal of the man who has let another starve, and both 
alike must pay in blood the awful penalty of hatred, 
both alike must be brought to acknowledge that love is 
the only power that can rule the world. A strange 
subject, this of ' forgiveness.' With one sternly ironical 
reference, ' Oh, Orestes ! you would have made a very 
tolerable Christian of the nineteenth century ! ' Mrs. 
Gaskell takes us back to the dead-alive conviction of 
the ancient world, still walking ghost-like in the midst 
of us, that justice is vengeance ; in the light of her own 
unquenchable faith she leads us on to see that justice is 
forgiveness. She never imagined anything more true to 
human nature at its highest than this bending of the 
spirit of one heart-broken father to the spirit of another, 
in stricken, reverent submission to the Father of all. 

Perhaps it was reserved for a woman to show that, in 
women guiding their conduct by the Bible, forgiveness may 
become, as it rarely becomes in men, an instinct. Electra, 
in the old world, urged on Orestes ; the idea of forgiving 
her mother never entered her heart. Desdemona not only 
forgave the Moor her death, but tried, with her last 
breath, to take the guilt of it upon herself. Shakespeare 
clearly held that, when a woman loves, forgiveness is 
involuntary, she does not even think of it ; but what 
would Desdemona have felt towards any one who had 
killed Othello? Isabella's forgiveness of Angelo, the 
would-be murderer of her brother, in Measure for 
Measure, is the result of thought, of pity for his 
betrothed, of resolution it is not instinctive. 



188 ESSAYS 

' They'll know it sooner or later, and repent sore if 
they 've hanged him for what he never did/ replied Job. 

' Ay, that they will. Poor soul! May God have mercy 
on them when they find out their mistake ! ' 

So says Jane Wilson, mother of the accused Jem in 
Mary Barton, without any consciousness of the sublimity 
of her words. Mrs. Gaskell might have taken for her 
motto the name of one of Tolstoy's most delicate short 
stories, 'Where love is, there is God also!' In her 
unending compassion, in her love of the gentleness of 
the frail and the old, in her clear condemnation of 
violence as a remedy, her scorn of military prowess, she 
resembles the great Russian more closely than any of 
her countrymen. But he was still to come ; and, though 
she afterwards withdrew them it may be from a sensitive 
feeling that they revealed too much of her inmost heart 
she found in Uhland's words a link to fasten to her 
work the memory of two spirits. 

Mary Barton was begun, by her husband's earnest 
desire, to relieve her own mental sufferings after the 
death of her little son. Terrible indeed must have been 
the thoughts from which the thoughts that gave it birth 
were a relief! The men and women who were writing 
about the dreadful year of '48 had great courage. They 
did not fly from the most agonising problems of life 
and conduct. They stood up and faced them not with 
the indifferent calm of the student, careful only to note 
and compare, but with the enthusiasm of the Church 
militant. They recognised the fact that these problems, 
although so troublesome, are for the most part expressed 
in simple terms. They were not so much concerned 
about the form of religion a man ought to belong to, or 
which woman he ought to have married, as they were 



MRS. GASKELL 189 

about whether he did or did not understand the words 
of Christ whether he was or was not doing his duty in 
that state of life unto which it had pleased God to call 
him. Humour imagination eloquence they did not 
use these gifts for their own solace, they pressed them 
into the service of those who had none. ' To my think- 
ing, them that is strong in any of God's gifts is meant 
to help the weak ! ' Job Legh expresses the thought of 
all the leading writers of that time. As the sonnet, 
which had been as a lute for lovers, became in Milton's 
hands a trumpet, so the novel, which had been once 
(and was to be again) a toy, became in theirs a sword 
with which to fight in the cause of the oppressed. Away 
but only for a time went the dashing, splashing 
fellow with the white plume, that we are all so fond of ! 
Thackeray wrote a novel without a hero ; Dickens took 
a child for his ; Charlotte Bronte made a heroine out of 
a poor little plain governess ; George Eliot showed how 
much more gentlemanly than a gentleman a carpenter 
might be. Mrs. Gaskell, more daring than any of them, 
rivalling Victor Hugo's choice of a convict, as she lay 
sick and sad upon her sofa, took an assassin. She called 
the book at first 'John Barton'; and of the living, 
moving characters on that wonderful canvas he is the 
first to arrest our attention, the last that we could forget. 
Small wonder is it that an Oldham labourer should have 
taken his children regularly to look at the house where 
she lived who thus could read the heart of the work- 
ing man, who thus could turn all hearts towards him ! 
From the moment when we meet him at the stile and he 
takes Jane Wilson's baby, to the moment when he dies, 
forgiven, in the arms of the man whose only son he 
has murdered, loving and pitying sympathy follows him 



190 ESSAYS 

step by step. Some of his words strike on the conscience 
now like hammers : 

'When I was a little chap they taught me to read, and 
then they never gave no books/ 

'It's not much I can say for myself in t'other world. 
God forgive me ; but I can say this, I would fain have gone 
after the Bible rules, if I 'd seen folk credit it.' 

' I would go through hell fire, if I could but get free from 
sin at last/ 

' It was not long I tried to live Gospel-wise, but it was 
liker heaven than any other bit of earth has been/ 

Apart from its own intrinsic interest, the first con- 
siderable work of a great novelist awakens our curiosity 
for the hints it may contain of future excellence. Jem's 
first sight of John Barton after his disappearance, going 
to the pump to fetch a j ug of water that vision of the 
murdering, not the murdered man, haunts memory like 
the spectre that it really is. The woman who wrote 
this could not have found any great difficulty in writing, 
as she afterwards did, one of the best ghost stories in 
existence, the ' Old Nurse's Story,' and the finer parts of 
that unequal study, ' The Poor Clare/ We might have 
known, too, that no hero of hers could be really base. 
She held a brief for the heroism of everybody as against 
the heroism of a favoured few. We might have known 
that her heroines would be, for the most part, maidenly, 
pretty, wayward creatures, with their hearts in the right 
place. * It is but a day sin I were young,' says the old 
woman, trying to comfort the heartbroken girl in ' Half 
a Life-time Ago ' with the reflection that life is short ; 
and the poetry of this, and of many other faithful 
servants, may be, to some slight extent, foreshadowed by 
the old nurse in Mary Barton. But we could never 



MRS. GASKELL 191 

have foreseen the great ladies of the old regime, the 
doctors, the ministers, the enchanting spinsterhood pre- 
sided over by Miss Galindo and Miss Deborah Jenkyns, 
who were to charm us in Cranford, in the far less popular 
but just as perfect picture, My Lady Ludlow, and once 
again in Wives and Daughters. Mr. Gray, in the second 
of these three works, meets and beats Amos Barton, 
Mr. Gilfil, and Mr. Try an on their own ground. We 
say it with hesitation we are not unaware of the 
indignant protest likely to follow but still we assert 
that we should greatly have preferred his ministrations. 
And if, for ourselves, we had the joy and privilege of 
calling in a doctor from the realms of fiction whenever 
we are not quite well, it would be Dr. Gibson, and not 
the husband of Rosamund Lydgate, for whom we sent. 
There is barely the shadow of a doctor, there are no 
clergy at all, in Mary Barton. Perhaps the symmetrical 
scheme of the work, the strong, sharp contrast of 
employers and employed, did not admit of people in 
an intermediary position. The grande dame, naturally, 
did not exist in Manchester. 

It might be, if we had to choose our favourite char- 
acter from this long gallery, My Lady Ludlow whom 
we should select. There are no such ladies now. You 
might search England through, from end to end, and 
never find the like of this lovely, beneficent little old 
despot. What need of heroes, or of heroines either, if 
she be there ? There are certain words that never must 
be mentioned in the ancient house where she lives, with 
the five 6 young gentlewomen ' who are to her instead of 
her dead daughters, and the twenty old servants to do 
the work of the twenty other old servants who are too 
old to do any work at all. ' Musk ' is one of these words. 



192 ESSAYS 

She cannot abide such a vulgar and common odour. 
Lavender and woodroffe are her favourite perfumes 
lavender and woodroffe and the scent of decaying straw- 
berry leaves in the autumn, noted by Bacon for its 
fragrance, and cherished by her because only a nose 
of gentle birth can detect it. What would she have 
done in these days of Board Schools and of cheap 
literature, she who had sheltered the victims of the 
French Revolution and believed that it would happen 
over again in England if the children of her tenants 
were taught to read ! How beautiful she is in her 
gracious tyranny, in her courtly, determined opposition, 
in the rigid reserve of her strong feelings, in the end- 
less outgoing of her generous heart to those who are in 
distress ! Etiquette itself becomes a kind of worship 
with such a centre. The sorrow that plunged the 
village into mourning comes to us like a personal 
sorrow when Mr. Gray goes up to her to break to her 
the death of her only son 'and she had been the joy- 
ful mother of nine ! ' The sky is darkened because she 
sits, a whole month long, in a black room, with lamps 
and candles, seeing no one except her maid, reading 
nothing except the names of all her children on the 
first page of the family Bible. We breathe again as soon 
as she comes back to rule her little kingdom. When 
she conferred a favour it was always as though she 
asked it ; and she ' never forgave by halves/ When she 
sends for a destitute, one-legged sailor to manage her 
property we tremble for her justification, we .feel she 
must be right, we trust her as she trusts herself and him, 
through all the mistakes of the first year. Certainly it 
was hard upon her that a Baptist baker, a person of no 
social standing whatever, should so contrive that his 



MRS. GASKELL 193 

fields were in much better condition than hers. Even 
Miss Galindo only partially softened her heart towards 
this person. 

( I daresay/ said Miss Galindo, ' he would have been born 
a H anbury, or a lord, if he could. ... It was his mis- 
fortune, not his fault, that he was not a person of quality 
by birth.' 

' That 's very true/ said my lady, after a pause for con- 
sideration, 'but, although he was a baker, he might have 
been a Churchman/ 

Dear Miss Galindo ! She ' often thought of the post- 
man's bringing her a letter as one of the pleasures she 
should miss in heaven' a reflection which occurred to 
Dr. Johnson also, when he was talking to Bozzy. But it 
will never do to begin about Mrs. GaskelPs old maids. 
They are as inexhaustible as Rembrandt's Jews. Let 
us end rather with a friendly counsel to every one who 
does not already own these c unappropriated blessings ' to 
purchase them at once. 



194 ESSAYS 



QUEEN ELIZABETH 1 

QUEEN ELIZABETH, when first she saw the light of day, 
was a great disappointment. She was a girl she ought 
to have been a boy. 

Why ought she to have been a boy ? To fight Scot- 
land on one side and Ireland on the other France and 
Spain over the water. Why ever all these countries 
were the enemies of England, it would take me too 
long to tell. But you must remember, please, that 
they were four strong enemies, Ireland, Scotland, France 
and Spain. 

We are every one of us made up of a great many 
different people. Elizabeth was made up of her grand- 
father, who was cautious and prudent, of her father, 
who was impetuous and charming, of her mother, who 
was vain, had a high temper, and never cared what she 
did, so that she got her own way. The impetuous and 
charming father very soon grew tired of the vain, light- 
minded mother, and cut off her head. If four step- 
mothers can make up for one real mother, then the 
baby Elizabeth was not to be pitied ; but can they ? 
At first she was so badly off that she had not even 
clothes enough to wear. In later life she more than 
made up for this deficiency, for she wore a new dress 
1 A lecture given to some working-girls. 



ELIZABETH 195 

every day, 365 dresses in a year. She liked to be 
painted as a goddess. When she appeared as a 'mere 
woman' it was in a dress all over eyes and ears to 
show that she could see and hear everywhere which, 
after all, was not quite like a mere woman. There 
were always two opinions about her. People who 
admired her called her Gloriana, Oriana, The Virgin 
Queen, The Maiden Queen, Great Elizabeth, and Good 
Queen Bess. People who did not admire her called her 
a serpent and a viper. 

At the time when she was young, it was quite a new 
idea that little girls ought to be taught as well as little 
boys, and her impetuous and charming father was very 
full of it. So she learnt many things, useful and orna- 
mental too. She was only six when she gave her little 
brother, Edward, a cambric shirt that she had made 
herself. She learnt to write a most beautiful hand. 
When we see her faded old yellow letters now, we wish 
that we could write like that. She could talk to learned 
men in Latin and Greek, to Frenchmen in French, to 
Italians in Italian. Our dear old Queen Victoria liked 
to stop an organ-grinder, if she met one when she was 
out driving, to show that she could talk to him in 
Italian : and Queen Elizabeth it is one of the few 
points that they have in common was very fond of 
showing off this accomplishment. Strange : but we have 
all of us these little vanities. She was but eleven years 
old when she wrote a letter in Italian to the last of the 
four stepmothers. She was taught to dance most wonder- 
fully too she went on dancing when she was over seventy 
and she could play and sing. There were no pianos 
then. Her favourite instrument was called, appropriately, 
the virginals. 



196 ESSAYS 

After the very disagreeable experience of having too 
few clothes when she was a baby, Elizabeth, as a girl of 
twenty, underwent the still more disagreeable experience 
of having too little liberty of being shut up in prison. 
Her brother was dead. Her half-sister, Mary, who was 
queen now, was afraid that she wished to be queen. 
No doubt she did, but she was much too clever to say 
so. When next you go to the Tower of London, please 
ask the warder to show you Traitor's Gate. Through 
this gate every one who was thought to be a traitor to 
the queen had to pass and to pass through that gate 
was very often the first chapter of a story that ended 
with somebody's head rolling away from somebody's body 
on to a scaffold. ' I am no traitor ! ' Elizabeth said 
proudly, when she was carried thither one wet Palm 
Sunday. One of the lords in attendance offered his 
cloak to keep her from the rain, but she put it back 
' with a good dash,' and setting her feet on the first step 
of the stair, she said, ' Here landeth as true a subject, 
being prisoner, as ever landed at these stairs, and before 
Thee, O God, I speak it, having none other friend but 
Thee alone.' Afterwards she was in prison in the 
country, at Woodstock, instead of being in prison in 
London. Her gaoler, a gentleman named Bedingfield, 
was very strict ; when she was going to be removed 
somewhere else, she took a diamond for a pen, and 
amused herself with scratching on a window-pane a 
little imaginary talk between them. Bedingfield speaks 
the first line : 

f Much suspected by me : 
Nothing proved can he, 

Quoth Elizabeth , prisoner.' 

When she became queen, she told Bedingfield that, if 



ELIZABETH 197 

she ever wanted any one safely kept in prison, she should 
give that person to him. Was he pleased, do you think, 
or was he not ? A double-edged compliment like that 
was very much in her line. Even her enemies even 
the people who called her a serpent and a viper con- 
fessed that she had 'a spirit full of incantation, 1 by 
which, I suppose they meant that she charmed them 
somehow, even while they detested her. At that time 
she was 'pleasing rather than beautiful, 1 tall and well- 
proportioned, her complexion somewhat olive; in her 
portraits she is always dazzlingly fair, but then she 
would not allow any shadows to be painted on her face, 
and as a child she is said to have smashed all the looking- 
glasses she could find because they did not make her 
pretty enough. She had beautiful eyes, full of spirit 
and sparkle, ' and above all a beautiful hand,' which she 
liked to show. Her curly hair was of a light auburn, 
and her nose was like the beak of an eagle. Far away, 
in a great old library at Durham, hangs a picture of her 
half-sister Mary, and I have heard it said that any one 
who happens to be sitting in the room while parties of 
visitors are being shown through, may hear very different 
opinions expressed about this likeness. f Ah, poor suffer- 
ing, deeply religious lady ! Looks like a perfect saint," 
says one man. ' O the horrid, cruel bigot ! Looks like 
a hateful fiend ! ' says another. So I do not know 
whether you would have thought Elizabeth beautiful or 
not. It would have depended on your opinion of what 
she did, I think, for ' handsome is that handsome does.' 
If you had been a child you might have liked her, she 
was always kind to children. 

When her enemies tried to puzzle her with questions, 
to bewilder her, to prove that she held wrong views about 



198 ESSAYS 

the Supper of the Lord, she wrote one verse which is worth 
all the rest of her poetry put together. 

Christ was the Word and spake it. 
He took the Bread, and brake it. 
And what the Word doth make it, 
That I believe, and take it. 

Elizabeth was staying at Hatfield (where Lord Salis- 
bury, who is of the same family as her great minister, 
Cecil, Lord Burghley, now lives), when the news arrived 
that her sister, Mary, was dead that she was queen. 
Did she show how happy she was ? Did she come flying 
up to London ? Not a bit of it ! She was much too 
clever. She sent a messenger to find out whether it was 
true. But before that messenger could get back again 
and we may be sure that he rode as fast as his horse's legs 
could carry him the lords of the council had found their 
way to Hatfield and greeted this young lady of twenty- 
three as their sovereign mistress. She fell upon her knees. 
' This is the Lord's doing, 1 she said, ' and it is marvellous 
in our eyes.' 

From the first she showed clearly enough that she 
meant to rule by the love of her people. She ofter < 
appeared amongst them, she travelled hither and thithe * 
and visited this town and that, she smiled with pleas, Id. u 
when they cheered, she encouraged them to com jved l 
crowds about her, she made them beautiful speec and 16 -' 
She led them to feel that she cared for their appro e r a 
If they disapproved strongly of anything she did, eal sn ' 
altered her conduct. Only on one point did she } llo * c 
her own. They were excessively anxious that she sh< 3U '" 
marry. And she was excessively anxious that she sh J 
not. 

Her brother-in-law, Philip of Spain, prr J P osed to 



ELIZABETH 199 

marry her. It would be quite easy, he said. She would 
only have to ask the Pope to forgive her for not having 
been a Roman Catholic before. She took a month to 
think about it decided that it was not so easy after 
all and said, No thank you. 

Afterwards, at different times, there were hovering 
about the throne an Archduke of Austria, a Prince of 
Sweden, two of the sons of the King of France, one of 
whom she called ' her little French frog ' (she used to wear 
a brooch made like a frog that he had given her), a 
Scottish Earl, a great English nobleman, Lord Leicester, 
who had an unenviable reputation for poisoning people 
he was tired of, and built the loveliest Almshouses in the 
world, which are still to be seen with dear old men in 
them at Warwick. She liked their admiration, and all 
the beautiful presents they gave her. She would not say 
Yes and she would not say No. She was just like the 
White Owl in the Fairy Story. ' What shall I do ? I 
have promised to marry them all.' 

'Here is a great resort of wooers and controversy 
among lovers,' wrote Lord Burghley. 'Would to God 
the Queen had one, and the rest honourably satisfied.' 

The Spanish Ambassador, as was natural, expressed 
himself still more strongly : ' This woman is possessed 
with a hundred thousand devils, and yet she pretends 
to me that she would like to be a nun, and live in a cell, 
and tell her beads from morning to night.' 

' I have had such a torment with the Queen's majesty 
as an ague hath not in five fits abated me,' says poor 
Lord Burghley again. And we can fancy how bad it 
must have been when the Queen's majesty condescended 
to inform him, ' I will have here but one mistress, and 
no master.' 



200 ESSAYS 

I am sorry to say that when people are very vain, they 
often grow very jealous too. Elizabeth was extremely 
anxious to believe what all her lovers told her that she 
was the most beautiful princess in the world ; but she 
found it difficult, because there was another very 
beautiful Queen close by, Mary Stuart, Queen of Scot- 
land, and all her courtiers said that she was the most 
beautiful princess in the world. One day she asked the 
ambassador from Scotland, ' Which is the most beautiful, 
the Queen of Scotland or myself?' That is the kind of 
question that never should be asked, even by Queens. 
The poor ambassador was very much put to it. At last 
he found a safe answer. ' My mistress is the most 
beautiful lady in Scotland, 1 said he, 'and your majesty 
is the most beautiful lady in England.' But Gloriana 
was not going to let him off like this. 'Which is the 
tallest?' she inquired. There the ambassador felt quite 
happy, for Mary of Scotland was the tallest. ' Then,' 
said Queen Elizabeth, ' she is too tall, for I myself am 
neither too tall nor too short. And can Queen Mary 
play on the virginals ? Does she play well ? ' ' O yes,' 
the ambassador said, ' she plays pretty well for a Queen.' 
After dinner, Elizabeth arranged that he should be 
brought in, by chance as it were, just as she was playing 
herself, and playing very well indeed. She let him listen 
for a few minutes, and then she jumped up, very much 
surprised, pretended to strike him with her hand, and 
said she was not accustomed to play before men, she only 
did it when she was alone, so that she might not feel too 
sad. But since he had contrived to hear them both 
did Mary play better than she did, or did she play better 
than Mary ? The ambassador was obliged to say that 
she played the best, but by this time he had had enough 



ELIZABETH 201 

of comparisons, which might be rejected in Scotland, 
and he asked leave to go back. Elizabeth insisted on 
keeping him two days longer, however, that she might 
show off her dancing. She could not miss such a chance 
of finding out whether she or the Queen of Scotland 
would be looked upon as the best partner at a ball. The 
ambassador answered that Mary of Scotland 'danced 
not so high nor so disposedly as she did.' And what 
that means, goodness only knows. ' Oh, how I wish I 
could see her ! ' Elizabeth said ; ' quietly you know, with- 
out any fuss.' 'Why not?' rejoined the ambassador. 
' Why should not your majesty disguise yourself as a 
page, and come back to Scotland with me ? ' Whereupon 
Elizabeth heaved a sigh, and said, oh ! if she only could. 

The Queen of Scotland was not so particular about 
marrying as Queen Elizabeth. She married three times 
each time more unhappily than the last quarrelled 
with her great nobles fled into England. She was 
bound to be Queen of England, if Elizabeth died, and 
many a great English nobleman, the Duke of Norfolk 
among the rest, aspired to be her fourth husband. But 
they were all afraid to mention the subject before 
Elizabeth ; and Norfolk, at the bare idea of it, fell 
into an ague, and was fain to get him to bed without 
his dinner.' Remarkable how many people got the ague 
when they had anything to say to the Queen ! 

This Duke of Norfolk, finding that he dared not woo 
openly, made a plot to marry Queen Mary. Off went his 
head! 

There is no doubt that, even in prison, where Elizabeth 
took good care to keep her, she was extremely dangerous, 
especially when the Pope excommunicated Queen Eliza- 
beth, which made it lawful for any Roman Catholic to 



202 ESSAYS 

murder her. There were plots everywhere plots among 
her own servants. Those who loved her those who saw 
that Protestant England was growing and thriving under 
her wise rule those who dreaded the most terrible con- 
fusion if she died urged her to put Mary Stuart to 
death. ' I cannot put to death the bird that has flown 
to me for succour from the hawk,' she said. She kept the 
bird in a cage in several different cages for nineteen 
years. One man after another tried to get her out. One 
man after another failed. One head after another rolled 
on the scaffold. 

Meanwhile, in France, the Massacre of St. Barthol- 
omew took place, and nearly all the French Protestants 
were murdered. Queen Elizabeth put on mourning 
when she received the French Ambassador, and all the 
court were robed in black. It was, Lord Burghley told 
him, the most dreadful deed that had been done since 
the Crucifixion. The Protestants of England became 
still more alarmed about the life of their Queen, and an 
association was formed to protect her. At last the 
Queen's council urged upon her, that she must put Mary 
to death. There could be no safety, either for her or 
for England, while that beautiful bird lived. 

'The life of Mary is the death of Elizabeth the 
death of Mary is the life of Elizabeth.' 

Elizabeth hesitated shifted her ground said she 
would said she would not hoped Mary would die of 
herself wished some one would murder her without 
being asked to do so. Elizabeth was like a certain king 
in Shakespeare who ' would not play false, and yet would 
wrongly win.' But we cannot get rid of our perplexities 
in this way. Mary Stuart went on being perfectly well, 
and nobody tried to kill her. On the contrary, they 



ELIZABETH 203 

tried to kill Elizabeth. At last her mind was made up. 
Even then she tried to lay all the blame on others. 
She could not endure to think that her people would 
call her what she really was unjust and cruel. Nothing 
can ever make a wrong deed right. She had no business 
to take the life of the bird that had fled to her for 
succour. 

Mary of Scotland had heard a sound of hammers in 
the hall of the Castle of Fotheringay, where she was 
imprisoned, and as she heard it, the picture of a scaffold 
rising crossed her mind but she could not believe it. 
' Day had followed day, and she heard no more. 1 ' The 
blow, when it came at last, therefore came suddenly/ 
Lord Shrewsbury and the Earl of Kent brought her 
the news. 

Philip of Spain, the brother-in-law who had proposed 
to marry Elizabeth, made up his mind, now that Mary 
Queen of Scots was dead, and her son a Protestant, to 
conquer England for himself. Never mind, said Queen 
Elizabeth's sailors, 'Twelve of her Majesty's ships are 
a match for all the galleys in the King of Spain's 
dominions.' Then was there a rush and stir through- 
out the realm of England. Then was there racing and 
chasing everywhere. Then were the beacon-fires lighted 
upon a hundred hills. The Armada is coming ! The 
Armada is coming ! And from the whole of England 
there rose a mighty shout of No ! 

It was Lord Howard of Effingham who commanded 
our fleet against the Duke of Medina Sidonia, the Com- 
mander of Spain. The winds and the waves fought 
upon our side and Drake, the glorious sailor who had 
sailed round the world in three years in the Golden 
Hind, and sunk the great big ships of Spain, and 



204 ESSAYS 

brought back to the Queen ^75,090 and the jewels that 
she wore in her crown at a state banquet after Philip 
had complained of his behaviour. She said the Golden 
Hind was to be kept for ever in memory of him, and 
she gave him a little golden ship that is still an heirloom 
in the Drake family. The ladies of Spain were so much 
afraid of Drake that one of them said she dared not go 
in a boat with the King himself upon the water, lest 
Drake should capture her. They said he had a magic 
mirror in which he could see always whatever the King 
of Spain did. He carried indeed the magic mirror of 
imagination, which enables people to see many things. 
In among the great big heavy lumbering vessels he sent 
a few old ships (no crews at all) that he had set on fire 
and the great big heavy lumbering vessels blazed up, 
and sank. 

4 He blew with His breath, and they were scattered. 1 
So ran the inscription upon the medal struck for the 
Armada, giving the glory to God alone. It was indeed 
a mighty deliverance. 

Great things Queen Elizabeth did great things she 
left undone. The Dutchmen, who rebelled against her 
brother-in-law, Philip, invited her to be their Queen. If 
she had accepted the invitation, it is probable that the 
Boer War would never have been fought. But she was 
very prudent. She was an excellent housekeeper. She 
did not think that she had money enough to fight the 
battles of Holland as well as those of England, and 
she declined the proposal. All the people of England, 
she said, were her husbands perhaps she did not care 
to have thousands of Dutch husbands as well. She sent 
the Earl of Leicester to take care of them ; but the only 
result of that was that England lost the bravest and 



ELIZABETH 205 

best of all her knights, Sir Philip Sidney, the one man 
who dared to speak the truth to her without getting 
an ague. She became more and more of a tyrant. Even 
Sir Walter Raleigh, the gallant who first attracted her 
attention by spoiling a beautiful new cloak that she 
might not have muddy shoes the brave discoverer who 
discovered potatoes, and tobacco, and a new province 
in America, which he called Virginia in honour of 
the Virgin Queen even Sir Walter Raleigh was very 
much afraid. 

4 Fain would I climb, but that I fear to fall,** he wrote 
one day as usual upon a window as usual, I suppose, 
with the point of a diamond. There were so many 
diamonds about the world just then. And the queen 
took another, and underneath ' Fain would I climb, but 
that I fear to fall,' she wrote : * If your heart fail you, do 
not climb at all.' Needless to say that Raleigh did 
climb but he fell, whether his heart failed him or no. 
His friend Spenser sang of Elizabeth as the Fairy 
Queen. When Spenser died, and was buried in West- 
minster Abbey, it is said that all the other poets went 
to the funeral and dropped their pens into his grave. 
There lies, for all we know, the pen of Shakespeare. 
Shakespeare lived longer than Queen Elizabeth. He 
paid her a magnificent compliment in the Midsummer 
Nights Dream, when he said that the God of Love had 
no power to wound her, for, however hard he might try, 
4 still the imperial votaress passed on, in maiden medita- 
tion, fancy-free.' 

But as the years went on he saw the imperial votaress, 
the Fairy Queen, grow very old and wrinkled, very 
capricious and cruel, and when she died he did not 
pretend to mourn for her. 



206 ESSAYS 

For the last years were not the best. After the years 
of plenty came the years of famine. She did not like to 
think she was growing old we none of us do. When 
the Bishop of St. David's preached before her on the 
text, 'Lord, teach us to number our days, that we 
may apply our hearts unto wisdom, 1 she did not thank 
him as was her usual custom when the sermon was 
over. No, no ! ' You might have kept your arithmetic 
for yourself,' said she ; ' but I see that the greatest 
clerks are not the wisest men.' 

Lord Burghley died; and it was long before she 
could mention his name without tears. She seems to 
have cried very easily, by the way, judging from the 
large number of persons who enjoyed the privilege of 
seeing her weep. When she was really in deep distress, 
she did not cry, I think, she sighed. A kinsman of hers, 
Robert Carey, says that he heard her sigh a few days 
before her own death, 'forty or fifty great sighs,' just 
as she sighed after the death of the Queen of Scots. 
Burghley was dead, but still she had his son the son 
whom she had made Sir Robert Cecil to help her. 

Leicester was dead, and a new favourite reigned, the 
Earl of Essex, but he was very disobedient, and though, 
after his fits of naughtiness, he said he was like 
Nebuchadnezzar, content to eat grass like an ox and 
be wet with the dew of heaven, till it should please her 
Majesty to restore him to his understanding, she could 
not make him thoroughly subservient. She did not 
want him to eat grass like an ox, she wanted him to do 
what she told him to do, and as he would not off went 
his head ! The people here in London loved him. He 
had tried to win them to come with him to the Queen, 
but when the moment arrived, they all got the ague. 



ELIZABETH 207 

Nevertheless they could not forgive the Queen for cutting 
off his head. She began to lose the thing that she cared 
for most of all the love of her people. Once more she 
made them a magnificent speech. 

'It was Elizabeth's last great triumph.' The world 
was passing away from her. They tried to flatter and 
to amuse her as of old. ' When thou dost feel creeping 
time at thy gate,' she said to her godson, who had been 
writing verses for her, 'these fooleries will please thee 
less.' It was then that Robert Carey found her sitting 
on cushions on the floor sighing heavily. What was she 
thinking of? Not of Hatfield, not of Tilbury, not of 
the glorious days at Kenilworth when Leicester feasted 
her, not even of Essex and his rebellion and his doom. 
Before her eyes there stood that awful scaffold at 
Fotheringay the woman, the sister Queen, the bird 
which had fled to her for succour and died. 'Then, 
upon my knowledge, she shed many tears and sighs, 
manifesting her innocence that she never gave consent 
to the death of that Queen.' In vain did Carey try to 
comfort her. Next day was Sunday, and she had ordered 
a room to be prepared for her to go to chapel. Long 
the courtiers waited ; she did not come. At last one of 
the grooms of her chamber came out. She was not able 
to go so far as to the great room. She would have 
service in the private room close by. There cushions 
were laid for her. 

Four days and nights she lay upon her cushions, 
neither eating nor sleeping, suffering from restlessness 
and thirst. She was weary of life, and yet she shrank 
from death. The Lord Admiral Howard, the person 
who had most influence, was sent for. He came and 
knelt beside her, kissing her hands, imploring her with 



208 ESSAYS 

tears to take some food. After a long while she let 
him give her a little broth; and then, encouraged by 
success, he ventured to urge upon her that she should 
go to bed. 

' If you saw such things in your bed, 1 she said, as I see 
when I am in mine, you would not persuade me."* 

At last Cecil appealed to her in the name of her 
people. 'To content the people," 1 he said, 'your Majesty 
must go to bed. 1 At this all her old spirit returned. 
' The word must is not used to princes," said she. ' Little 
man, little man, if your father had lived, you durst not 
have said so much, but you know I must die and that 
makes you presumptuous.' Cecil was bidden to go and 
all the rest, except Howard. ' My lord, I am tied with a 
chain of iron about my neck,' she murmured. Worse 
and worse she grew more and more silent, speaking only 
twice or thrice in the twenty-four hours at last, for one 
long day and night, remaining utterly silent, her finger 
in her mouth, her ' rayless eyes ' open. Her ladies could 
hardly stand the strain. 

The Archbishop and her chaplains came to her. He 
told her that she ought to hope much in the mercy of 
God. Her piety her zeal the admirable work that 
she had done and so on and so on. 'My lord, 1 she 
said, ' the crown, which I have borne so long, has given 
enough vanity in my time. I beseech you not to increase 
it in this hour, when I am so near my death. 1 Long and 
late he remained, praying by her side. At last he left 
her; she sank into a deep sleep from which she never 
awakened. ' A few hours later Robert Carey was riding 
hard along the North Road, 1 to be the first to tell the 
son of Mary Stuart that he was king. 

It was a strange thing to stand in Westminster Abbey 



ELIZABETH 209 

between the grave of Mary Stuart and the grave in which 
Elizabeth was laid by the side of her own half-sister, 
Mary. If she had never lived had never reigned 
London would not have been what it is to-day, and every 
one of us here in this room to-night would have been 
different. Every church, every chapel, would have borne 
a different character. The river would not have been 
crowded, as it is to-day, with those great ships that are 
the road to another England across the seas. The shops 
would not have been as they are now nor the city. Up 
to Elizabeth's time business was carried on in the open 
street, or a curious place for it in the nave of St. Paul's 
Cathedral. In her time Sir Thomas Gresham built the 
Royal Exchange, and asked her to come and open it. 
Londoners, as a rule, are not fond of new inventions, and 
he could not feel sure whether he would be successful in 
letting the new shops that he had built all round. So 
he went, cunning man (he was the sort of man that 
Elizabeth could understand), to the leading shopkeepers 
and told them that, if they would be so kind as to come, 
and put out their wares in the windows, and light a few 
candles in honour of Her Majesty's condescension in 
appearing there, to make everything look prosperous and 
bright and pretty, he would let them have the shops 
rent-free for a year. Of course they came of course 
they lighted the candles, of course they availed them- 
selves of the kind permission to stay a year rent-free, of 
course at the end of the year they did not want to leave, 
they took the shops on and you know or perhaps you 
do not know what land is worth now in the city. If 
Queen Elizabeth had never lived and reigned, we should 
not have had an excellent Poor Law. Whenever we go 
against it, poverty grows more, whenever we observe it, 

o 



210 ESSAYS 

poverty grows less. If Queen Elizabeth had never lived 
and reigned, Shakespeare would never have written as he 
did, and you would not have been going to see as I 
hope you do sometimes go to see A Midsummer Night's 
Dream, Macbeth, Henry F., and many another wondrous 
play. If Queen Elizabeth had never lived and reigned, 
Sir Walter Scott would not have written Kenilworth, a 
novel that you have all read, I am sure, or one that you 
all mean to read some day a finer novel than any one 
alive could write now. Would that we had kept the 
Great Eliza's love of music, and the love of it in the 
England of her day ! In every little barber's shop there 
hung two instruments upon the wall, so that one customer 
and another might amuse himself singing and playing 
while the other was shaved or had his hair cut. I am 
afraid she and her people would not have thought much 
of music-halls and musical comedy ; they liked better 
music than that, and prettier words too. 

' So passes away the glory of the world ! ' As a dream 
as a shadow as the tinkling sound of the thin and 
delicate old music of Queen Elizabeth's day. ' Death lays 
his icy hand on kings.' They are gone, but none of the 
merciful forgetfulness that will shroud your name and 
mine is permitted to throw a veil over the ill that they 
have done. Terrible are their responsibilities. If they 
have failed and fallen, what are we that we should judge ? 
We cannot but shudder at the cruelty of Elizabeth we 
cannot but disdain her monstrous vanity. When we 
have done shuddering at her and despising her, let us 
remember that it was she who made England what it is 
and she who set the great example of love towards her 
native land and she who fired the hearts of men to fight 
for justice. 



THE WILL TO DIE 



THE WILL TO DIE 1 

' A MAN would die,' said Bacon, ' though he were neither 
valiant nor miserable, oriely upon a wearinesse to doe the 
same thing so oft over and over. 1 

Therein he betrayed the ennui that is, at times, the 
portion of the wise, evening himself with the world-weary 
sage of ' The thing that hath been, it is that which shall 
be.' Perhaps also there spoke in him the venturesome 
restlessness of the age of Elizabeth, when no man could 
be content without a new kingdom to conquer, and to 
sit still was not to live at all. In every age men of other 
ages abound ; and the attitude of mind is by no means 
inconceivable now. 

The people who want to die and there are many 
do not, as a rule, want to die because they are intoler- 
ably tired of doing over and over again the two or three 
things which are necessary to human existence. They 
want to die because their friends have died, or because 
they cannot endure the responsibility of their actions, or 
because they are out of health. 

One of the most profound interpreters of the time, 
Henrik Ibsen, inculcates firmly the love of darkness. It 
is light, says he, that makes men discontented. Darkness 
is natural to him as water to a fish ; if he could but 

1 Fragments from an Essay called by this name. Date unknown. 



212 ESSAYS 

remain in his own element, he would be better off. A 
natural reaction, after the thirst for light that led to 
the discoveries of science in recent years ! * Dark with 
excess of bright,' mortal eyes turn away gladly to night, 
mystery, death. The end of too much knowledge, too 
easily acquired, is, as it always has been, satiety and 
shamed self-consciousness. O for a black veil to hide us 
from ourselves, and from each other ! ' Welcome, Sister 
Death!' And yet is she welcome? No; for some, 
though they dread neither agony nor extinction, fear 
that worst fearing of all they do not know what. 

. . . We are constrained to admit that Bacon must 
be overwhelmingly in the right when he says that there 
is no passion so weak but it will conquer the fear of 
death. Curiosity, so doctors tell us, conquers it in almost 
every case with which they deal. Now this is a good, 
robust passion, accountable for many crimes and for much 
heroic behaviour; but the instance given by Bacon is 
curious. Many Romans, it appears, after the Emperor 
Otho had taken his own life, killed themselves out of 
pity a passion which, with characteristic phlegm, he 
calls the weakest of all. Surely this was but a local, 
temporary scorn of Man's enemy. At Rome the 
Almighty had not fixed His canon "gainst self-slaughter ; 
it was held honourable there. Compassion for Otho 
would not, maybe, have led his adherents to go so far, 
if they had not hoped that they might win fame, a hope 
which is at all times powerful with the human race, 
seeing that it is rooted in one of our deepest foundations 
vanity. The indignant contempt of Queen Victoria, 
had any one proposed to honour her demise after this 
fashion, may be imagined ; yet she was far more widely 
and deeply loved than Otho could have been. There was 



THE WILL TO DIE 

a debate upon the subject among the native adorers of 
Nicholson, when he fell at Delhi. Four of them elected 
to die because he had died ; they wished to serve him in 
the under world. A fifth, with wise comprehension of 
the man, asserted that this would make him angry that 
it would be a more acceptable tribute to Nicholson if 
they worshipped Nicholson's God. And he went to seek 
Christian instruction. 

That rapture in the contemplation of Death which is 
found so often in the young, and in those persons 
dowered with eternal youth who are the first to embrace 
new forms of religion, depends in great measure on the 
state of the blood. Reason has little to do with it. We 
are not martyrs because we are convinced. ' I do not 
believe in God. I know Him.' 

Grand as the death of a man ' drunken with God ' 
must be, we are more moved as we grow older by the 
quiet jests and courtesies of the balanced mind that 
refuses to make either a fast or a feast of the occasion. 
4 Pity that should be cut that hath never committed 
treason,' said Sir Thomas More to his beard as he put it 
out of the way of the executioner ; and the little Socratic 
joke in tune with the whole life of a leading scholar of 
the Renaissance, gives us rarer delight than the high 
ecstasy of that Marian martyr on the other side who 
went dancing into the flames. 

After all, Romans and Greeks are not so distant. 
Their opinions were often like our own strong, but by 
no means clear. Our politicians, our more liberal Church- 
men, would converse with Plato or with Cicero on terms 
of easier mutual understanding than with the Ninth 



ESSAYS 

Louis. Our women would sympathise with Alcestis more 
readily than with St. Elizabeth. In the Middle Ages 
the feminine element overpowered every other. The 
position of women became wholly unnatural. The noblest 
men turned themselves into women, like Francis of Assisi. 
The noblest women became nuns. 

There are among poets of the younger school some 
who conceive of death as a condition of gray, weary, 
dream-like exile, neither wholly material nor yet free 
from the bonds of matter a condition in which ghosts 
are more familiar than souls, good or bad. 

Milton, who believed that a spirit was something more 
solid than a man, would not have understood this. Nor 
would Dante, who held that the spirit is the man, and 
the bodily form a mere accident. They lived in periods 
differing greatly one from the other, yet alike in a certain 
Puritanical severity that compassed life round with 
restrictions. They indemnified themselves with the 
glorious liberty of the sons of God in the life to come. 

Hezekiah had not the slightest doubt that death was 
a great evil, and many a Christian who says of his 
departed friend ' Poor So-and-So ! ' echoes the feeling of 
Hezekiah. A natural instinct overbears his logic. 



COLLECTION OF PASSAGES FROM 
LETTERS AND DIARIES 



COLLECTION OF PASSAGES FROM LETTERS 
AND DIARIES 

I. FROM 1882 TO 1897 

1882. 

' WHOM the gods love die young ' and whom they hate 
die old, but whom they honour, these they take up to 
their eternal habitations in the ripe summer time of 
existence. 



1883. 

To-morrow double Janus-headed to-morrow bless- 
ing and curse of frail humanity. But for thee, the pleasure 
of to-day would be Heaven, but for thee, to-day's load of 
misery could not be borne, but for thee, we should be 
immortal, and but for thee, I should make my will this 
instant. What art thou ? Nothing here in Time, where 
all is to-day. Everything in that eternity which is but 
a succession of To-morrows. 



1883. 

In the midst of much trouble, much doubt, much fear, 
many failings, I feel a steady gladness in the thought 
that I am drawing nearer to that end which must be 



218 PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

great, to that beginning which must be as a flood of 
light after darkness. 



Goethe conquers one's admiration, willing or unwilling, 
step by step, and leads one down, down into what seem 
to be depths of thinking, till suddenly the stars begin 
to shine; but with Schiller it is morning, and people 
are still young, and death is only what it is to the 
young, a glory and a hope. All his tragedies together 
are joyous, compared to the gay bits of Wilhelm Meister. 



1884. 

To-night men save the lost and preach for life the 
Gospel of Destruction. To-night men sit at ease and 
drink away their very souls to Satan. To-night men's 
hearts are broken, and men's fortunes are made. To- 
night men pause upon the verge of crime unspeakable 
and climb to the triumphant height of heroes. To- 
night men die and are born. To-night also the stars 
are shining and the winds at peace. 



188G. 

They err who say that without love is no joy. There 
is a joy of the intellect with which the heart has nothing 
to do. It is like a little ray of candle-light by which 
darkness becomes visible. But the joy of love is sun- 
shine. 



It was delightful to hear of your looking out at the 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 219 

stars for sympathy when you felt low, and getting better 
directly; they have so often comforted me. They are 
the blessedest, most soothing influences. Theirs is the 
only brightness that never jars. How odd, to think 
that a lot of great big blundering worlds, first-cousins 
to our own, should have that power to quiet one. 



1887. 

Surely Shelley wasn't quite such a wretch as you think 
him ? It seems to me that Godwin evilangelized him so 
very successfully that one can only pity him, not con- 
demn him for many of his misdeeds; they were errors 
of judgment rather than sins. Of course that cannot 
be said of all. He was terribly wrong, yet, do you 
know, sins and all, he never repels me for a moment, 
as does a man like Carlyle, for instance, whose life is 
moral, but whose character is utterly immoral, being 
grounded in selfishness and intolerance ; or like Words- 
worth, who was false to the ideal of his youth for want 
of faith. Mary is a dreadful bore with her eternal ' Read 
Greek 1 and her journal. She reminds me oddly of 
Sarah Coleridge, in whose letters I can see no charm 
whatever. They are both so Englishwomanly. They 
certainly have imagination, and when they set it to 
work it works successfully. I love Phantasmion, I dare 
say I should love Frankenstein. But it does not play 
about in their ordinary writings or lend any grace to 
their lives. It is all cold. 



1888. 
Dove sono i bei momenti?' Sometimes we lose the 



220 PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

Present Tense of life altogether. For Anodos this 
morning is last night. Last night he was up in the 
Gallery at Covent Garden, happy as a god, listening to 
Figaro, and tho' he has been to bed in the interval, 
there he still is, and there he is likely to remain. 
Figaro gives him the same kind of pleasure as The 
Merchant or As You Like It. Perfect comedy is 
almost too beautiful to laugh at, as perfect tragedy is 
'too deep for tears.' Much of it is a joy of pure 
sensation, like riding or swimming, for those who have 
not been trained to understand music, but there are 
things which inspire a feeling beyond all definition. 
Poetically it reminds me of Chaucer, it is so simple, 
youthful and vigorous. 



April is the month of lovers 1 quarrels between the 
Earth and the Sky, and an engagement is nothing 
without them. May is the month for Confirmations. 
The soft pink-and-white girlish faces under their floating 
veils look like a cloud of May blossoms, and not inaptly 
might those youthful vows be called 'The Promise of 
May." Marriage is for hot June, and Death for cold 
December. 



' June may be had by the poorest comer.' It is God's 
alms to the poor. He feeds them with the sweet air, 
He clothes their naked bodies with the warmth of the 
sunshine. I never feel inclined to be charitable in June. 
It seems to me that Heaven has taken it off my hands, 
and I am sorry for no one. Old women who sit all day 
long at street corners move me not. Vagrant families 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

provoke only a smile. Little boys without any boots 
make me feel rather envious. Anybody who is well 
enough to be out anywhere deserves not pity. 



Talk of myriad-minded Shakespeare. Why, the com- 
monest man breathing has many, many more than a 
myriad minds. I am a different person every twelve 
hours. I go to bed as feminine as Ophelia, fiery, en- 
thusiastic, ready to go to the stake for some righteous 
cause. I get up the very next morning, almost as mascu- 
line as Falstaff, grumbling at Family Prayers. Is it 
possible for me to believe that I am really the hero of 
the night before ? Personal identity ? People are fools 
that doubt it ? Upon my word, I think we are much 
greater fools to believe in it. It is only the stupid 
transitory flesh in which we walk about that makes us. 
We believe it for others, not for ourselves. 

Anodos has over and over again been conscious, both 
for good and evil, that he was being rented by a spirit 
not his own, and when his body goes to sleep, he is in 
all probability animating another one at the Antipodes. 
Of course he cannot be found out in this Box and Cox 
arrangement ; he cannot even find out himself. . . . 
Nature is ever economical, and souls are her very dearest 
commodity. It probably takes her as long to manu- 
facture even a baby's soul, as it does to turn out ten 
elephants. 



June 1888. 
If Anodos had a boy (which, thank kind heaven ! he 



222 PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

has not), he should go to Eton. Windsor Castle teaches 
a better kind of royalty than can be learnt in courts, and 
to love a river is to love poetry in one of its most visible 
forms. 



3rd June 1888. 

Anodos had in his early youth a great liking for 
sermons. Not that he ever understood or remembered 
them, but the taste of them was sweet to his palate. 
It is not so now. He left Church this morning especially 
to avoid one. Outside the birds held Morningsong, and 
the wind that bloweth where it listeth preached out of 
St. John's Gospel, 'Thou canst not tell whence it 
cometh." 1 It might have been crisping the waves, 
ruffling the heather, scattering the powdery snow upon 
some distant Alp, before it folded its great wings, and 
fluttered peacefully down into that London Churchyard. 
.... I incline to think that it is not three people who 
make a congregation, but one. Alone, I am a host in 
myself; oppressed on every side by masses of yawning 
fellow-Christians, how can I be devout? (I am not.) 
Even if they are not yawning, what is the feverish 
excitement of a crowd hanging on the rhetoric of the 
local Vicar to the quiet Apocalypse of a solitary person 
under the sky among trees ? ' The heavens declare the 
glory of God: and the firmament showeth His handi- 
work/ After all, even a Cathedral declares the glory 
of Man. 



July 1st, 1888. 
To worship God in silence is noble; it shows the 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

poverty and unworthiness of speech, by exalting thought 
above it. In the finest silence of all, ' Thought is not ; 
in enjoyment it expires," 1 and the worship of joy is the 
worship of angels. But to worship God with impromptu 
words is ignoble, for unconsidered speech is the least that 
a man can offer. 



July 2nd, 1888. 

Roman remains depress me. It seems so impossible to 
reconstruct people out of them. If there is nothing 
tangible left of us but sixpences and shillings, and fonts, 
and kitchen saucepans, and sanitary arrangements, how 
will the New Zealander that sits on the ruins of St. Paul's 
ever know what we were like? A Roman hairpin is 
something. It helps one just a little towards a lady. 



July 2Ist, 1888. 

Solitude affects some people like wine. They must not 
take too much of it. It flies to the head, and they 
become intoxicated. Too much society is far better 
for a man than too little. Abstractions become real, 
realities abstract, to an over-contemplative person. Odd 
that it was Peter, the least, not John the most contem- 
plative of the three chosen Disciples, who cried out to 
stay for ever upon the Mount of Transfiguration, because it 
was good for him to be there. But many an active- 
minded man since has over-estimated the glory of con- 
templative hero worship, and lived to rue the day when 
he built a tabernacle on a mountain for some ideal master 
of his, and refused to come down. The true masters are 
not they that will live in such tabernacles. 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 



July 23rd, 1888. 

I suppose the most undramatic people in the world 
have a tendency to act somewhere, somehow. You 
cannot divide the world into actors and non-actors. 'Tis 
every man that 's a player. Only they play to different 
audiences, some to other men, some to women, some to 
themselves, some to God. Gordon was always finding 
himself out at it, and hissing the performer. It is this 
which gives his Journal and his letters their unique 
character. He knew, and he forced himself to say that he 
knew, he would rather have so many soldiers at his 
command than trust God to look after him. Most men 
are unconscious actors. This rare man knew when the 
mask stiffened over the natural face. We are so well 
accustomed to the acting, that when some sudden event 
interrupts it, and people are themselves for a minute or 
two, we always say they are in an unnatural state. 
Lovers, being absorbed in each other, sometimes forget 
to act for weeks together. Civilised humanity found it 
impossible to stand this, and invented the honeymoon. 



Aug. 8Qth, 1888. 

No moon, but multitudes of stars. E and I, 

walking along the cliff, lay down on our backs to look at 
them. What strange things people are pitied for ! I can 
imagine nothing more divine than drowning on a night 
like that. It is the sort of death a god would choose, if 
he could die. Not so our God in the midnight noon of 

Calvary. E talked about the motherliness of the 

sea. ' Yes," I said, ' it 's a comfort to think that to her 
the oldest of us are babies/ But I was much too happy 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 225 

for anything of that kind. * Thought was not, in enjoy- 
ment it expired. 1 Those monumental stars, homes of 
poets for ever. The eyes of David, Plato, Shakespeare, 
rested where ours rest now. They shone through the 
three kingdoms of the dead for Dante. Goethe looked 
at them, writing his Faust. There was music afterwards 
< Glory to God in the Highest.' 



Oct. 31st, 1888. 

Why are a man's words bound to be true, when half 
his deeds at least are sure to be false ? 



Nov. 3rd, 1888. 

There is delightful freemasonry in a fog. Ignorant 
people will always help each other. Half knowledge is 
very communicable ; not so knowledge. 



Dec. 13th, 1888. 

We give more truth to those we hate than to those we 
love. To the latter we are our souls only, the part and 
not the whole, or some entirely fictitious person, invented 
for their benefit, a person who always likes what they 
like and never gets tired. 



Sept. 4th, 1889. 

It seems to me nothing should be done, when you are 
not in the mood for it, except Duty. 'Love me, or 
leave me alone.' People who are always in the mood for 
Duty make Saints, and people who are often in the mood 

p 



226 PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

for it, Heroes. They live con amore; the rest of us 
only par condescendance which is not the way to get 
on. Their own life keeps them warm. They are not so 
dependent as the rest of us upon some other. Perhaps 
they have never felt the imperious longing for an echo, 
however faint, so only it were true, of their own existence, 
that makes some people lonely. Millions of people dead, 
not one the same, millions alive now, not one with so 
much as an eye the same as mine, millions to come, all 
different. 



Nov. 28th, 1889. 

How far away we are from each other. Two walls of 
flesh between me and the nearest person on earth ! Even 
the eyes mysterious. I look, and see two little pictures 
of my outward self, when all I long for is the image of 
the other soul at those windows ; and then, we may 
reduce our bodies to the same pace, sit, walk, run evenly 
together, but how seldom will the mind run in couples ! 
My neighbour's mind has wings, and reaches the goal 
before I have so much as seen it, or mine is half-way to 
another goal by mistake, while my neighbour is labouring 
to explain where it is that he wants to go to. 



June 2nd, 1890. 

How many a born king spends his whole life in the 
pursuit of asses for want of some kind prophet to tell 
him he is a head and shoulders taller than other people ! 



I have been reading Hazlitt with even keener pleasure 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

than I meant to get out of him. It seems to me the 
critics of those days were flesh and blood compared to 
the airy-fairy creatures that carry on the trade now. 
They had much more solid beef and mutton books to fall 
back upon. The background of their minds was Shake- 
speare and Spenser, not Shelley and Keats, and somehow 
one feels the difference in the downright cut-and-thrust 
manliness of their style. It's not so dainty of course, but 
I can't help thinking it will yet manage to outlive Mat 
Arnold and Andrew Lang. They certainly didn't fight 
as one that beateth the air. 



Ibsen's delicate way of unfolding character seems to me 
wonderful, and a man that thoroughly understands a 
woman was a very great man indeed. There are two or 
three people who can tell stories about her, and one or 
two who can put her into a book without killing her 
during the process, but how few can get her alive on to 
the stage not laughing only, not crying only, but doing 
both, and that not hundreds of years ago in blank verse, 
but dressed in the latest fashion, and talking prose. 



March 15th, 1891. 

Ghosts, The Light that Failed, and a sermon fifty-six 
minutes long, all in the course of one week, would be too 
much for the patience of a female Job. I am perfectly worn 
out with realism and the want of it. I wish it were rather 
less the fashion in literature and rather more the fashion 
in church. Anent Ghosts, I don't know what to say. I 
always begin by respecting any one or anything that 
knocks me down, so on Friday night I was sure it must 



228 PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

* make for righteousness/ On Saturday morn, when I 
had got over the dizziness, but was still aching mentally 
all over from the pain of it, I didn't feel quite so sure, 
and by Saturday eve I felt nearly sure that it made for 
the very reverse. . . . 



A dull, stunned sensation still clings to me. The fruit 
of the modern Tree of Knowledge is certainly very nasty ; 
it may ' make one wise,' but it is not c a thing to be 

desired.' E says Ghosts is like a Greek play, because 

no catastrophe happens on the stage. I can't feel that. 
It seems to me rank where a Greek play would be strong. 
There's a good deal of heredity in (Edipus, and the 
subject is quite as revolting, but the difference of treat- 
ment prevents one from feeling it in the same way. The 
Greeks are wild to kill themselves because they have out- 
raged convention, the Scandinavians are wild to kill con- 
vention, because it has outraged them. No, I don't think 
I 've put it fairly for the Greeks. 



July 23rd, 1891. 

These wonderful late nights and early mornings, when 
there is nothing to be seen but the sky, no sound but the 
sea, no distinction but of sun or moon, fill all my mind 
for the time being, and drown the very thought of self. 
There is no struggle to be rid of it, no slaying of it first 
and rising above it. It goes. I feel so near to God, that 
there is no need to pray, any more than if I were one of 
His birds. 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 229 

May 4th, 1892. 

When we were out this afternoon, we saw the larks 
descending to the ground, almost without a flutter of 
their wings, as if they flew upon their singing. Some 
people's lives are like that; they progress by harmony 
rather than movement. 



Whether we love each other because we are like or 
because we are different, or as I am far more inclined to 
believe for no reason whatever, which is as much as to 
say for some reason so deep that the mind of man cannot 
fathom it is a question to which I never find any answer 
that satisfies me. For I think it's very seldom that we 
are alike really, any two of us. The points at which we 
touch are almost infinitesimal compared with the vast tracts 
of difference. In the beginning love is often helped by 
the fancy that it detects a similarity which does not 
exist, but by the time he has found out his mistake he is 
far too happy to care anything about such a trifle as 
that. 



July 13th, 1894. 
One gets a hunger for certain faces and to feel a certain 

kind of love round one. That of the 's is all sheltering 

and spoiling and yet it strengthens one, and drives one's 
worst self right away. I can't think how they do it. It 
is the very High Art of Love. There is an art of it, I 'm 
certain. Some people never get beyond being brilliant 
amateurs, and some are good serious students, always 
learning their lessons in it, but without any original taste. 
How funny an exhibition of us would be if we were all hung 



230 PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

up as each other's < Works ' ! Here a bit of character 
moulded by this one, there another moulded by that one, 
each with its own stamp on it. 



April 28th, 1895. 

I longed for something to draw me out of myself, not 
to sink me down into it. If it 's lovely, it 's lovely, but if 
it 's not, it 's a good deal worse than nothing to me. Just 
during the last few minutes, these words flashed into my 
mind out of emptiness, ' Surely, the Lord was in this place 
and I knew it not.' That pleased and rested me. On 
the Mount of Transfiguration only can we say, ' Lord it 
is good for us to be here,' but of almost every bit of 
life we might say, 'The Lord was in this place,' and 
even if we do not know it at the time, it is something 
to know it after. 



July 1896. 

I wonder if people who have a garden enjoy it so 
absurdly as Londoners enjoy one flower? The great 

tiger-lily that L 's father brought wastes my time 

almost as well as a fire in winter. 

' Pure lilies of eternal peace,' indeed ! This one 's a 
real tiger. As for the four little sunflowers in two pots 
on the leads or sunleaves rather, for the flowers lie yet 
in the dark abyss of the future, they have given me 
many a ' green thought in a black shade.' And I become 
unfriendly to the Sun himself, if I think he is scorching 
them, and beseech the winds of Heaven that they visit 
them not too roughly. 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

Mephisto would have had me by the wrist often 
enough, I have said to so many moments of life, ' Stay, 
thou art fair ! ' In solitude a deux even a trois. (To 
be happy in threes is, I believe, a great test of the capa- 
city for being happy at all.) Only they never stayed. 
And you have as much chance of finding the same 
moment again as the same mortal. Joy is a host of 
happinesses, each quite unlike all the rest. A thud 
behind me. Only the lily falling to bits. I did so want 

her to stay till to-morrow, so that the St. T s might 

see her. But she won't stay. She is fair. 



March 2Ist, 1897. 

There's one desire I never can resist a longing to 
break the great black root, a lump of coal, and free the 
golden flower within. What if people do call it pro- 
saically ' poking the fire from the top ' ? 



March 29th, 1897. 

To catch the sun and keep him in a book what a 
hopeless business ! Yet never twice the same clouds 
gather round him touched with the same colours; it is 
human to grasp at them. 

Thy sun, that Adam saw, that the last man shall see, 

Shining on thousands also shone on me. 

And one white flower of Thine born yesterday 

To wither in a sunny week away, 

Sweet to me only, to none other sweet, 

Sent up its honied fragrance at my feet. 

A fragment of grey cloud showed against the gold disk 



232 PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

like a headless cross. Then the disk was striped by little 
swords and daggers of light light upon light. 



For me the hero of the hour is that Duke of Parma 
who besieged Antwerp in the days when people wore 
ruffs. He dedicated the siege to the Virgin Mary and 
named one of his forts after her and one after his king. 
' Oh, for half an hour of Alexander in the field ! ' the 
soldiers used to cry ; and wherever he went they won. 
Alexander Farnese was his magnificent, ruff-like name. 
I am also more in love with Sir Philip Sidney than ever. 
He died of a wound in the thigh, and as he lay dying, he 
asked them to sing him a song called The Broken Thigh 
that he had made ! So funny so pathetic, somehow. 
And he was always telling the other people, who were in 
agonies of tears, that he didn't mind in the least in fact 
he rather liked it. Have you ever read Motley ? It is 
so fascinating. And then one turns to the Daily Tele- 
graph, and there is the Kaiser giving the King thirty-two 
hideous silver-gilt baskets designed by himself ugh ! (I 
never do say ugh I but it 's a comfortable word to write 
much disgust in it.) 



How curious that personal touch is in the great French 
historians. Is it for want of that that ours are such dry 
stuff in comparison ? Michelet falls ill of overwork. 
' JTai abattu trop de roisj and he does another enchanting 
volume. Qualifications absolutely necessary for a good 
historian: 1. Imagination; 2. Prejudice; 3. the power 
of writing your own biography at the same time. 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

How dull is the Life of Dean Church \ How much 
worse than dull the Life of Dr. Pusey \ I think the devil 
writes religious biography. There's much more real 
religion in the Bacchae of Euripides, which is simply 
glorious a sort of Greek Salvation Army business, all 
drums and cymbals and ecstasy. Macaulay says he 
hasn't the least idea whether Euripides meant to run up 
or run down fanaticism, but it 's one of the finest things 
going. The revel of vine and ivy and bryony and wind 
blown torches and roofless rocks and wild delirious joy 
in freedom and music and open air is quite intoxicating. 
Then there's Bacchus himself, the god come down in the 
likeness of man, the men of Thebes refusing to under- 
stand, obstinate not to worship him, punished accord- 
ingly. There's no real tipsiness as far as I can make 
out. The Hallelujah Lasses get drunk on the wine of 
the spirit, not the wine of the grape. 



II. FROM 1897 TO 1907 

When you spoke about sex the other night, I didn't 
think much about it, but to-day I did, and I know now 
that I didn't feel with you, and that it does seem to me 
to be an eternal distinction. I don't think we are separ- 
ate only in body and in mind, I think we are separate in 
soul too, and that a woman's prayer is as different from a 
man's as a woman's thought or a woman's hand. I can- 
not think of souls that are not masculine or feminine . . . 
but just as the negation of sex is inconceivable to me, 
so is its unification ; I cannot think that we shall be men 
as well as women, and men women as well as men. If we 
do not retain sex I don't see how we can retain identity. 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

Male and female we were created ; it is of the very 
essence of our nature. 



E and I went to the National Gallery on Saturday. 

We looked at many pictures, but we thought at six the 
three ideal Knights Giorgione's, Raphael's, Velasquez's, 
two Madonnas, and Botticelli's 'Assumption of the 
Virgin.' Certainly Botticelli was one of those who saw 
' Heaven opened,' though it thrills one to think how 
Heaven has widened and widened since the day that he 
finished his last golden circle of stars. 



Woman with a big W bores me supremely. How 
iyuz/7/ would have puzzled the beautiful concrete Greeks. 
It is a mere abstraction born of monks and the mists of 
the North. A woman I know, but what on earth is 
Woman ? She has done her best to spoil history, poetry, 
novels, essays, and Sir Thomas Browne and Thoreau 
are the only things safe from her; that's why I love 
them. 



I have been reading Araiel all day, out in the garden, 
where every blade of grass shone like a little sword, and 
in the chalk hollows and on the cliff over the sea. It 
would be better for me if I did not understand him so 
well perhaps. He ought to have been a woman and 
married Thoreau. Thoreau is the masculine half of him, 
and he would have just had courage enough to say yes to 
the right person, though he never proposed to the right 
person himself for fear she should happen to be the 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

wrong. Perhaps it was not even for fear of that. To 
have asked the question, ' Is it worth while ? ' is to have 
answered it in the negative. He accuses himself of 
cowardice, Timidite ; the word comes over and over again. 
But was it really fear ? Was it really anything stronger 
than indifference to all life except that of his own intellect? 
I don't know. ' Nothing venture nothing have. 1 Better 
he had married recklessly three times, like Milton, and 
generally wrong. As a critic, c il a toutes les intelligences 
de la tete et du coeur? It is exquisite. I couldn't help 
being pleased to find that Mozart twice reminded him of 
Plato, that books angered and soothed him as if they 
were people, that his will-lessness depressed him more 
than their wilfulness depresses others. 

Amiel's power of drowning himself in the existence of 
another, whether that other be God or a daisy, is very 
wonderful. He seems to have retained mentally some of 
that strange power of transformation that a child experi- 
ences before it is born. He identifies himself not that 
he may love better, but that he may understand more ; it 
is a very unusual kind of sympathy. 



I read some of Medea ; it stiffens one's mind to do a 
bit of Greek. Classic folk despise Euripides, but after all 
he was Milton's man. Medea is thoroughly fin de siecle ; 
says she would rather go into battle three times than 
have a baby once, pitches into men like anything. But 
there 's too much Whitechapel about her. How are you 
to be seriously interested in a woman who has murdered 
her mother and boiled her father-in-law before the play 
begins ? So different from the gentle Phaedra, and the 
wonderful Antigone and Helen. 



236 PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

We have got about fifty books, and if it were not for the 
extraordinary dulness of the Popes, I should be perfectly 
happy. Why is no Pope interesting except the Papa of 
Caesar Borgia ? Nuns are charming, monks fascinating, 
even an Archbishop may please, but the minute a man 
becomes a Pope he thinks of nothing but Bulls and 
Councils and slanging the Emperor of the period. I 
take a personal interest in the Anglo-Saxon nuns of the 
ninth century, because if I had happened to be born then 
instead of in the nineteenth, I should have had to enter 
a convent from the impossibility of getting books any- 
where else. They were obliged by their abbesses to 
read two hours a day, and they wore fringes (for which 
the bishops had them up), and corresponded with St. 
Boniface, or any other saint they could find, in bad 
Latin, and went to Rome on pilgrimage whenever they 
were tired of one another, and were dreadfully afraid of 
meeting Saracens there. Five hundred of them once 
danced for joy on the grave of a novice-mistress whom 
they hated, till the earth sank in half a foot, and the 
Abbess condemned them to fast three days on account of 
the hardness of their hearts. My opinion is that un- 
married ladies had a high old time of it in those days. 



Nothing has such deadly power to corrupt as un- 
alloyed virtue. 



I have spent the whole day murdering flowers. Phil- 
anthropy is like your sins, it finds you out. There was I 
sitting in the verandah this morning, reading of Michelet, 
wishing no ill to any one, when by comes nice, good Mrs. 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 237 

and inquires whether I wouldn't like to go and help 

her pick cowslips to be sent up to the flower-girls in 
the worst street of London. Having broken my back 
for two hours over this performance (in the course of 
which I made many reflections on the nature of cowslips 
and of nice, good women), I calculated that I must have 
earned about 3d. towards the hat or flannel-petticoat of 
Spitalfields. I should have had quite two shillings worth 
of pleasure out of Michelet. From a money point of 
view it doesn't pay. However I dedommaged myself by 
gathering an enormous bunch of flowers afterwards for 
home-consumption. 



Yesterday F. and I were gathering primroses. One of 
the dearest things about Nature to me is her secrecy. 
There were all those thousands of yellow stars, and yet if 
we had waited a year she would no more have let us see 
the exact moment at which every bud changed to a 
flower than she would have told us the very point at 
which Celia left off being a baby and grew into a child. 



How I do love the tossing and kissing and crushing of 
the waves. It's like the encounter of strong-hearted 
friends, half play, half warfare, and half surrender ; O 
dear ! I forgot there couldn't be three halves to a thing. 



The result of leaving children to the guidance of 
nature is so very dreadful; and the men and women 
who say they live according to nature are even more 
intolerable than the children. If I follow nature, I 



238 PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

scream when I have a tooth out, I eat eleven strawberries 
when there are twelve on the table, I come down late 
to breakfast, there ""s no end to the inconvenient things 
that I do. Is it dreadfully Philistine to say these 
things? I am not as you see in love with nature 
no doubt because I do live in accordance with nature 
myself. But I don't think the result charming. 



If it turns out that the world is the Church, and 
the Church is the world, why, the Sinners must just 
forgive the Saints and the Saints must learn to stand 
being forgiven. 



(FROM TREWORLAS) 

I hardly ever write and never read. After all, the 
earth was made before books. 



On Wednesday I heard Prof. Flinders Petrie on The 
Development of Research in Egypt A thousand years 
were as a day, and one day as a thousand years. It was 
wonderful to hear him tossing time about like a magician. 
There on the table stood a little chipped vase that was 
6000 years old. And he went back to 9000 B.C. It 
appears that we have not improved in weaving since 
5000. He spent last winter high up on Sinai, with nine- 
teen other diggers, five days from their food supply, in 
the freezing cold, unearthing an Egyptian temple. The 
Egyptians used to go there to look for turquoise, and 
there they set up numbers of ' pillars,' like the one that 
Jacob set up at Bethel when he had not known ' that 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 239 

there was a God in this place,' and there the Inspectors 
of the works prayed for oracular dreams to guide them 
to a vein of turquoise. A very superior way of mining 
to ours in South Africa, I think. I don't wonder that 
they found the treasures of the earth that they made 
lovely use of them when found. They leant on the 
Eternal, and there is something of eternity visible in 
their work. I don't believe people will find and rejoice 
in diamonds from the De Beers mine thousands of years 
hence. The earth will take her own again and quite 
right too. Only that which is earth returns to the earth. 



How is it that people with beautiful minds can always 
write such lovely things about dull, leaden, wildly foolish 
sleep, that robs us of nearly half our little life, and 
makes such fools of us that we are ashamed to think of 
what it did, when we are awake ? (This is a little bit 
of private, personal spite, because I never have any good 
dreams.) I don't like sleep. I'm not the friend of 
sleep. I 've slept too much. I passionately admire old 
Sir Thomas Browne 

O come that day when I shall never 
Sleep again, but wake for ever. 

Though it is an imagination beyond imagination to 
conceive and terrible as ' No night there ' of which, it 
is, I suppose, a rendering. As for its being the cure of 
mortal woes, they 're always twice as bad when one wakes 
up it's mere opium. Beddoes was right, in his beauti- 
ful little Dirge, when he wrote first 

If thou wilt ease thine heart 
Of love and all its smart, 
Then sleep, dear, sleep ! 



240 PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

and then 

But wilt thou cure thine heart 
Of love and all its smart, 
Then die, dear, die ! 

I wrote out lately four Sonnets on Sleep, four great big 
Sonnets, by Griffin, Daniel, Sidney, Drummond, respec- 
tively. 

The first verse of this [a poem sent her] reminds me 
sweetly of three of Sidney's lines 

Take thou of me smooth pillows, sweetest bed, 
A chamber deaf to noise and blind to light, 
A rosy garland, and a weary head. 

The rosy garland would be rather in the way ? I 'm 
glad you haven't got that. Yours is a most beautiful 
little dear poem, I think. I delight in it all except verse 
two, which is not equal to the rest. Somehow I don't 
care about the sky 'teeming 1 with fancies, and would 
any one want a gnome in a garden? The flowers 
wouldn't ! 



When I had finished it [Stevenson on 'The South 
Seas,'] I seemed to hear Mr. Cory say again, 'Poor 
fellow ! Knows no Latin and Greek ! How I should 
like to teach him ! ' Never in any other book of his 
did the thought come across me. I never minded 
whether he knew Latin and Greek or not. But now 
I feel dimly, somehow or other, that if he had been a 
classic, he would not have lost the fine edge of his 
refinement out there he would not have allowed him- 
self one or two coarse and bloodthirsty touches which I 
think Mr. Cory would not have liked. It is curious, 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

how often I find myself referring and deferring to what 
I fancy his judgment would have been about some book. 
And how unsafe to speculate! For one could never 
tell. Besides the terrific knowledge, he had that 
vein of caprice which seems to me sometimes to mark 
out all the really great critics men who were poets 
before they turned to criticism men like Sir Philip 
Sidney, Charles Lamb, Mat Arnold, FitzGerald and 
so on. 



I am delighted with your beautiful Yeats letter. Yes, 
what an elf of thought he is ! 



Are you fond of Motley? I've been besieging 
Antwerp over again. I shall never get over it, that 
that rocket did not go up to tell the fleet at Lille that 
the fire-ship Hope had broken Parma's bridge. How 
magnificent, the dead commander leading the Old 
Spanish Legion to victory on the narrow dyke between 
the two seas ! ' In that superstitious age ' says Motley 
but it made me think of Mr. Cory. 'I don't know 
what he means,' he said once, quoting a great passage 
of Ruskin from Modern Painters about the ghostly 
Brethren leading the Roman Soldiers. He said it as if 
he were pleased not to know. 

Ah, but how often the great ghosts of their dead have 
cheered the Roman Catholics on to win ! There does not 
seem to be that power of resurrection in Protestantism, 
though we have our fire-ships of Hope. And the dead 
prevail, against fire even. 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

Shakespeare has no conscience about the people his 
second heroines marry. That Oliver and Celia match 
was a bad business. But nothing to Claudio and Hero. 



Now you will think me a worldling I am but you 
made me feel sorry a little for the ' large and fashionable 
congregation.' There are sad hearts under fashionable 
clothes as well as under rags. There were Kings in the 
Bible whose prayers were heard, as well as beggars? 
Why may we not 

Go together to the Kirk 
In a goodly company ? 

There is something in the mere fact of numbers when 
they sing when they are silent that makes the Hymn 
or the prayer different from that at home more inspirit- 
ing to some people and less of an effort. And though 
Our Lord said so much about private prayer He went 
often to the public service in the Temple or the 
Synagogue, and did He not mean us to learn from His 
life as well as from His words? I do not care for 
crowded services nor for frequent services of any kind 
but there was a time when I did, and I understand 
the feelings of those who do, and who like to worship 
among people of like kind with themselves rather than 
among the bewildering poor who are different in cleanli- 
ness and different in taste or in a loneliness the 
heights and depths of which they cannot always 
measure. 



. . . We did homage to Velasquez together at the 
Guildhall. What an elfin thing the influence of genius 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 243 

is ! Half the little girls in London have turned into 
little Spanish Infantas, because their mammas think it 
can be done with a bow on the side of the head. 



I know so little about Pandora. She had a box with 
a lot of troubles in it, and Hope at the bottom, hadn't 
she ? They didn't look upon Hope in the Pauline way ? 
as a virtue ? It certainly seems more like a gift. 



Christian artists have blinded Justice, but they never 
blinded Hope, which makes one think they believed in 
the human race more than ^Eschylus did. 



The difficulty in teaching about death is, it seems to 
me, that you must make the teaching transcendental, 
and yet, if the child is fully inspired with the thought 
that it is 'The entrance to a better life,' and a child 
believes that so very easily and readily the first time 
it comes across death at close quarters, it will be so 
utterly unprepared for the horror of it for the shock 
of the inconsistency of passionate grief funerals mourn- 
ing that it will run the risk of losing belief altogether. 
I know it was so with me. 



I've just been to see a most exciting picture by Piero 
di Cosimo (the Renaissance painter in Romola, you 
know there are only about 15 of his works extant). 
It's the battle of the Centaurs and the Lapithae out 
of Ovid, and they say every detail of the passage is 



244 PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

rendered. I never knew there were lady Centaurs. I 
was deeply touched by one lovely dear, half of her a 
white horse and half of her a beautiful gold-haired lady 
with lilies, mourning over a Renaissance gentleman 
Centaur who has had the good taste to die in her 
arms. She has a lovely ear like a shell, just fringed 
with fur, as if she didn't quite know whether it were 
human or not. 

How much more agreeable sporting ladies would be 
if they were only half a horse in body as well as in 
mind ! The rollicking fun of part of the picture is 
most remarkable and the terrific enjoyment of the 
struggle. One Centaur has pulled up an altar to throw, 
and the incense is still smoking on it. Another is 
tugging at the trees to uproot them. All this gorgeous 
stuff to be seen for nothing. You just walk in, and 
intelligent men hum round you and give you printed 
descriptions. How cheap the best things are ! 

'Tis only Heaven that is given away. 



'IVe just been thinking how wonderfully Milton 
the insatiable knower recommends Temperance in know- 
ledge even, in that passage about the Trees of Life and 
of Knowledge in Bk. iv. 

Knowledge of good, bought dear by knowing ill. 

I shouldn't have known beforehand that he would 
think it was ' bought dear.' 'Tis a hard question, even 
now. 



After all, e We're all going to Heaven, and Vandyck's 
of the company.' We must remember that, if we're 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 245 

Christians, we of all people must have least to do with 
despair. 



(After seeing Hamlet at Stratford). Benson's delivery 
of the great speeches was admirable. At the end he 
struggles up to the throne a la Forbes Robertson and 
then falls into Horatio's arms and dies there, falling 
forward. I don't care for this; I suppose somebody 
will elect to die standing on his head next. And I don't 
care for the business of tangling the King in a fishing-net 
before he stabs him. No. Nobody fights like Sarah, 
and nobody dies like Forbes. When I 'm in Heaven, I 
shall order a week of performances of Hamlet thus : 
Mon., Benson ; Tues., Forbes ; Wed. and Thur., Irving ; 
Fri. and Sat., Sarah. Ellen Terry to be Ophelia always. 
Will you come too ? 



FALMOUTH. 

I thought of you last night as I sate in the dusk on 
our tiny lawn, and watched the stars twinkle out and 
the lights of the ships. This is a fairy place. You see 
the boats gliding about over the blue water like moths and 
great white butterflies, and never a man do you see. 
You see the lamps at night and never a man to light 
them. One poor old steamer lies just opposite our 
windows, and has lain there for ten months, forlornly 
waiting for a cargo that doesn't come, with only two 
men, the captain and the bo'sun. . . . They have the 
gift of fernseed, they walk invisible, we have not seen 
them once. Round the corner lies Falmouth. 



246 PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

TITI SEE. 

What an odd thing is the c lust of the eyes.' Some- 
times, if everything is ugly, I can't feel gay in the least, 
however comfortable it is ; and here, where I suppose the 
cold and the damp really are uncomfortable, I can't 
succeed in minding them at all, because there's a hill 
that appears and vanishes at the end of the lake, and 
because of the floating spectres of mist shifting and 
drifting among the fir-trees, and because of the changing 
paths down hither and thither over the landscape. It is 
all very well to read when the others are there, but if 
I am alone for five minutes even, I can hardly tear 
myself from the window. It is never the same, and it is 
always beautiful. 



DORSET. 

I hardly ever touch a book or a pen. The sky is 
greater reading than the Bible, the sea than Shakespeare. 
The words have not been born that could describe what 
I feel. ' I was dumb and opened not my mouth, for it 
was thy doing.' Funny, what waste of time all doing 
seems by the side of being ! And yet I know that the 
least little thing done is better than all this fine dream- 
ing. . . . Words cannot express my aversion from every 
form of industry. 



BAMBOROUGH. 

All day we sat in the golden ragwort, the swallows 
flying close to us, watching the gulls, the terns, the 
dunlins and the hovering hawks. I can't tell you how 
beautiful it was. When the moon rose we sat and 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 247 

watched her in the doorway. What is there that 
charms one so in the mere rising and falling of tides ? 



A marvellous thing it is to any one standing for the 
first time in the gold and crimson spangled darkness on 
that part of the Tower Bridge that behaves like other 
bridges, to watch the signal spots of red at the mast of 
some tall ship, to mark a slender rope stretched, to hear 
a bell rung, slowly, and in an instant to see the solid 
centre of the bridge heave up, unresting and unhasting, 
so gradually that not a tiny pebble on it moves, so 
unceasingly that the twined shadows of the railings fall 
every second into new lace work to see it fill the arch 
like the vast and mystical curtain that hid the veiled 
image in the temple to see it once more drop again, in 
the same soft and stately manner, without a sound, to 
meet its other half. 



HENFIELD, SUSSEX. 

I think the Sleeping Beauty and Co. must have fallen 
asleep in this place and infected the neighbourhood. I 
fall asleep all day long. And I dream a horrid dream 
about a flying fish that I've got to catch, all covered 
with brown fur, and the minute I Ve caught it, it flies 
away down Portland Road. Everything is very beautiful 
sleepily beautiful, not dreamily. The robins are dis- 
tracting; they hop from bough to bough among the 
apple-trees, and answer each other singing 

Their words are words, 

Our words, 
Ouly so much more sweet. 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

There's a lonely church too, with processions of yews 
walking about and about it, and yellow roses twined 
among them ; and as you go through, a rose will kiss 
your cheek and leave a drop of dew there. 



CHABMOUTH, DORSET. 

This is such a lovely place, and every moment stolen 
from sea and sky seems to be wasted. I lie out on the 
cliff, the great blue over, the great blue under, and 
watch a wee butterfly hang like a flower on a bit of dry 
grass. And then the sun sets behind the hills in a pale 
gold and red sky, and the sea catches the red and gold, 
and the soft headlands lie ghostly grey between. . . . 
Perhaps nothing thrills us that is not or has not been in 
some way human! . . . The least little scrap of ruin 
would make it different. A light in a cottage window 
and there you are ! But I don't feel as if I could want 
anything different just now and here. I love to drown 
to forget all about human beings not to know I 'm 
a woman. . . . The other want comes back of course; 
but while it 's away and when the sun shines what an 
adorable place the world is ! 



We have been having a discussion about ' old ancient ' 
things. I never can feel the age of mountains ; it does 
not impress me in the least, and I don't think age, 
unconnected with anything human, is impressive. After 
all, the earth that makes the road in 12 Cromwell Place 
is just as old as they are, in reality. Of course the 
oldest building is an infant in comparison with the 
youngest and most babyish mountain, but then it is old 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 249 

collectively with the age of all the hands that have 
touched it, the ages that have seen it, the hearts that 
have beat in it. A mountain will be as young as ever 
at the last day. There 's no pathos of age except where 
it touches humanity. 



Snow mountains have never fascinated me. Switzer- 
land seems to me to have got no heart. I just admire 
it, but I don't love it in the least. I would fifty times 
rather be in the Black Forest, or among the soft blue 
hills of Savoy. 



Scenery is all very well . . . but I'm a stranger 
among mountains. I am at home in the flat, skiey land. 
More to me are the lonely gracious trees that can grow 
as they like, than the trees that have to grow as the 
mountains like. And I hate a wall that says ' You 
can't see the sun yet,' and e Now you shan't see the sun 
any more.' 



(FROM THE LAKE COUNTRY.) 

The hills about the place are alive. Sometimes 
they're not hills at all, but mist that has taken a 
fancy to look like that, sometimes they lie asleep, some- 
times they die and vanish, sometimes they spring 
and lift themselves, sometimes they are low and little, 
sometimes they turn giants, sometimes they are pink 
and gold, like the Holy Land. They only obey one 
rule so far as I can make out, and that is, never to be 
two minutes the same. ... I sit and think of nothing. 



250 PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

I feel as if my whole body were my eyes, as if I never 
wanted it to be anything else. . . . Wordsworthian 
animals abound. All the cows and sheep look as if they 
knew the Ode to Immortality by heart. I 'm sure they 
are all immortal. Sometimes they look as if they were 
going to recite Betty Foy, but then I run away. 

I can't tell you what the sunsets are here. Pink 
clouds and silver moon gold clouds and a gold moon 
grey clouds and no moon it does not matter in the 
least. The quiet, solemn feeling of gladness sweeps over 
one like a great wave. It buries all the restlessness, all 
the anxiousness, all the vanity. And at night there is 
the wide sky sometimes a few stars that are friends, 
sometimes hosts upon hosts of lonely strangers with 
them. 

(Op KNAUKSBORO'.) 

It was an elfin town last night, a red round ball of 
lightless sun sinking away behind the slender, delicate 
trees. There, and there only, the hours pass. Here 
[Harrogate] they stand still. 



Light has such different ways with it ; in some places 
it lies, in some it falls, in some it strikes. . . . 



I've just been reading Tennyson's Love and Duty over 
again. What a marvellous thing it is ! No event, no 
character, nothing on earth to explain ; only those two 
tremendous words fighting it out together in perfect 
silence. And what a deep, fine feeling, to end it with 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 251 

dawn, not with the night and stars, as a meaner poet 
would almost certainly have ended. 



As to reason and feeling, they are always pulling me 
different ways, and I really don't know what to make of 
them. Do you think they are the man and woman 
faculties in us ? Feeling seems to me the highest, but 
many people would say just the reverse. Feeling goes 
higher and deeper, is at the same time more instinctive 
and animal, and more divine, and takes a short cut 
where reason goes a very long way round; but reason 
is stronger, more reliable because it's more permanent, 
and not so apt to make terrific mistakes. If it comes to 
a fight between the two I follow the former nine times 
out of ten . . . And nine times out of ten I go wrong. 



The law of love, which is freedom ; if we could only be 
ruled by that ! But alas, too often, even where people 
love, and love intensely, they won't obey love's perfect 
law ! Still I do think there is a strong tendency now 
to see that that is the only thing that can bring a man 
' peace at the end.' The very abhorrence of the word 
' Duty,' which some people affect, shows it. 



No play in the world comes near Hamkt, of course ; 
nothing ever could. I'm tempted to think I love the 
sonnets more than all the plays, Hamlet included. But 
this is flat heresy and only to be said in a whisper. 



I 've been re-reading The Tempest, which reminded me 



252 PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

of some words by Bell Scott (the only words I ever saw 
in a book that recalled my own childhood to me) to the 
effect that childhood is not an earthly Paradise, but an 
enchanted island, full of strange noises and haunted by a 
Caliban. 



There are some words that are like a flight of steps 
that end in mid-air, and there is nothing but the sky 
above them. Poetry is, by its very derivation, making, 
not feeling. But the odd thing is, I think, that what 
is most carefully made often sounds as if it had been 
felt straight off, whereas what has been felt carelessly 
sounds as if it were made. 



I've been reading Rossetti's letters, and Matthew 
Arnold^s. There's just this difference between them, 
that Rossetti was a poet, and Matthew Arnold was a man 
who wrote poetry. Qua poetry, it does not matter in the 
least, but qua letters, Rossetti beats Matthew Arnold into 
a cocked hat. It's funny to find the dividing line so 
marked in their prose. But the Vailima Letters beat 
them both, and most others into the bargain. Stevenson 
was a poet who couldn't write poetry, but could and did 
live it. 



The Venetian pictures at the New Gallery are dis- 
tracting. . . . It's just like 'A Toccata of GaluppiV 

' Dear dead women, with such hair too ! What 's 
become of all the gold ? ' For they are dead, dead, dead, 
as dead as the dodo. Take off their armour and their 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 253 

beloved little Quickly caps, and the Generals, and the 
Admirals and the Doges would translate into nineteenth 
century English quite easily; but we have lost those 
ladies for evermore. We never could be so broad as that, 
however hard we tried, nor so brown-eyed and red- and 
golden-haired. They couldn't be revived, not if we 
wore their clothes at twenty masquerades. They have no 
souls whatever to speak of, but oh ! you never saw such 
fascinating coins ! There are three that are not coins, 
by the way a perfect Magdalen carrying a chalice, that 
used to be called ' St. Barbara,"* and is St. Barbara if 
she 's St. anything and a lovely Lotto, whose soft grey 
eyes are as refreshing as dew in the golden hazel and 
amber gleaming of all the rest and a tall, mysterious, 
bushy-locked Lady Professor of Bologna, with her 
hand resting on a skull. She's thinking unutterable 
things you long to know. Some people think she must 
be a man, because she 's so tall ; but she has little soft 
white hands, and the way she stands is a woman's way, 
not a man's. It is the strangest, most dream-like feeling, 
to be in the midst of these silent and secret lives, these 
faces that are so many sealed books. There is a much 
larger proportion of portraits than usual, so that it has 
the effect of a little world, complete in itself, not in- 
terrupted by too many excursions into the other. You 
have to say to yourself Penso, non dormo, like the 
marble cupid, with bandaged eyes, in the Hall. The 
fountain bubbles away, surrounded by a well of red 
marble, covered with angels and flowers, and black 
Othello pages stand round, and the very lanterns that 
lit the Doge's barge when he went to marry the Adriatic 
hang over it. 



254 PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

... Is it not Tintoretto who makes the Tempter a 
young and beautiful man ? I always have wanted to see 
that picture at Venice. In Tissofs he was an old and 
hideous brown man, holding up two stones which had a 
ghastly look of skulls about them. The Temptation on 
the roof of the Temple was very fine the Evil One 
a kind of spider's web of shadow behind, everywhere 
nowhere at once. (Millais 1 Evil One sowing tares is 
the finest I ever saw, I think, for concentrated rage, envy, 
baseness, love of evil for evil.) The more one thinks of it, 
the more impossible it seems to depict such a spirit con- 
flict at all. But there are things that Art is bound to try, 
and never to accomplish, and the very effort after them, 
given that it is the highest effort of the imagination, 
interests more than success. Blake might have succeeded 
in a moment of inspiration that most people would have 
called madness. 



Words could not say how deeply I agree that they are 
but a very superficial part of language. Where so much 
is played, painted, looked, touched, felt, they do seem 
inadequate; and it is quite true that, very often, you 
might as well try to paint a piece of music as to explain 
a picture. Still, there are certain limits, it seems to me, 
within which one art may lawfully help another, and such 
a description as Pater's, for instance, of Mona Lisa, 
shows literature as the hand-maid of Leonardo. The 
fine arts are all fine ladies, and they cannot replace each 
other or lay down the law for each other, but they may 
exchange courtesies now and again ? 

Socrates was my earliest love, and, all things considered, 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 255 

I think he '11 be my latest. There 's something of marble 
in all the loftiest Greek characters. Bat it 's the cold- 
ness of perfect calm, of perfect dignity not the iciness 
of pride, and that makes all the difference. 



I believe the Elizabethan sense of love and friendship 
was much stronger and more sensitive, and closer to the 
Victorian, than anything in between. 



I am with you. I am with you. I am with you 
about Clarissa Harlowe. It is one of the most wonderful 
of novels thoroughly unhealthy, don't you think ? I 
found it was a favourite with Mademoiselle de Lespinasse, 
and was not at all surprised. It seems to me one of the 
few books that are like an experience, you are not quite 
the same after you have read it as you were before. 
Richard Feverel is another. Resurrection is another. I 
suppose there's nothing to compare with it for minute- 
ness except The Ring and the Book ; but The Ring and 
the Book goes in for ' goodness,' and not for ' virtue,' 
and what a difference that makes ! 



How difficult I find it to think of anything just now 
except Port Arthur ! It is odd to find oneself in such 
ardent sympathy with an alien race against whites. . . . 
My heart goes out to Togo. For one thing, I am so 
much obliged to him for having such a short and cheerful 
name. Ito, in his two-storied country house, with his 
black-silk-haired wife and quiet little maid-servants, and 
his four pet storks in a cage by the sea, I adore, A bas 



256 PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

Alexiev ! But for the Tzar I have infinite pity not 

understanded of H , who thinks him a weakling. So 

he is, but it is a tragic position for a man strong enough 
to desire peace with all his heart, not strong enough to 
enforce it, obliged to be the figurehead of War, and go 
to church in public, and pray Heaven for what he knows 
is accursed. 



The Blake pictures in Ryder Street are amazing. I 
think he and Turner are the greatest things we have 
ever had in the way of paint. But as a rule I refrain 
from mentioning him as I refrain from mentioning 
Gordon because I am always told he was mad. Un 
fou qui meurt nous legue un Dieu. I remember you 
had a passion for that cry of Beranger's too. I am all 
on the side of madmen. 



Rodin's Penseur, the big statue, is rather gigantic 
than great I think but great too. He thinks with 
everything his great groping feet think. Only the 
hands hang slack which is true to thinking nature. 
The only statue that he reminds one of is Michael 
Angelo's Penseroso but Rodin's is a rough man, not 
born to think, thinking because he must, and not because 
he would. 



I don't know whether you would like the fat new Life 
of Dumas by Davidson ? It was a great excitement to 
me, but then I 'm ' a Dumasser of the first class ' and 
I rather think you're only of the second. Have you 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 257 

read all the three great series, as well as the ten volumes 
of Memoirs right through, and when you came to the 
end did you wish there were at least ten volumes more ? 
That is the test. As for this Life, the first part consists 
of the Memoirs watered down and spoilt, but the rest, 
after 'thirty-two, when the Memoirs stop, is very amus- 
ing. He bought a vulture and towed it along by 
a rope, and called it Jugurtha. Afterwards it took to 
a tub, and then it was called Diogenes. When I get to 
Heaven (perhaps if might be a more suitable beginning) 
Dumas is the first person I shall ask for. And I shall 
ask him to bring all his five hundred children. 



I am still struggling with Wahrheit und Dichtung. It 
reminds one of 

Crabbed age and youth 
Cannot live together. 

He 's always saying, Once I was young, and I did this 
and then he gives an old man's reason for it. The 
result is not a charming portrait like that which Lewes 
gives, but a horrid composite photograph of both his 
ages. Nothing lives except Frederike and the two 
daughters of the dancing-master. Odd that another 
man could write Goethe's life so much better than he 
could himself! As an autobiographer he really is not 
in it with Benvenuto Cellini or Dumas pere. I suppose 
poets do not know what they are made of, they 're made 
of such very funny stuff. 



We have just come back from a lonely little grey 
church, sunk in a churchyard blue with speedwell, and 



258 PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

largely attended by swallows. Every Sunday afternoon 
the Vicar catechises the children there, like a Christian 
Socrates. It's the most charming thing to hear. What 
an art that is, to ask questions in such a way that the 
people asked positively burn with the desire to answer. 
Out fly the little hands all over the place, and they can 
hardly wait their turns, they 're so eager. 



I went to see Celia at her gymnastics yesterday. But 
I am old-fashioned, and hate the hideous actions and 
the ugly language. Why am I forced to behold twenty- 
six lovely children squatting like little toads, and tum- 
bling down on mats and swarming up ropes like cabin- 
boys? Why have they got to be told to 'Face the 
ribs!' and 'Forward the Trunk!' The trunk how 
horrible ! I hope and trust you don't tell Helen to 
forward her trunk? It made me long for Chassee, 
Croiste, and 'Set to your partner!' and the elegant, 
' Now my dears, draw in the Sash ! ' instead of that 
odious, telegraphic form of address, as if every word 
cost a half-penny. 



Yesterday, H read out Yeats' Death of Ctichullin, 

and then I asked for Sohrab and Rustum to compare. 
There are touches in Yeats that Mat Arnold can't 
beat, but the father and son are much finer in Mat 
Arnold, and no two lines of the Yeats dwell with one like 

Truth sits upon the lips of dying men, 

And falsehood, while I lived, was far from mine. 

But how Mat Arnold does crib ! My stars and garters ! 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 259 

that hyacinth straight bang out of Virgil is a bold 



one! 



I am acting temporary Gamp to a dear little cousin who 
is down here all alone in a big empty house, separated 
from her children three of whom have Scarlatina in 
barracks nine miles off because she is expecting another 
little stranger in February. We live like two men in a 
lighthouse, avoided by every one, though she has been 
here by herself for about a month. She sings me Songs 
of the North, so that every evening about nine-thirty I 
become a furious Jacobite, and meditate profoundly on 
the advantage it gives a cause if you can call it ' Charlie," 
or ' The Grand old Man, 1 or ' Joe.' I wish we had a 
Christian name for Free Trade. ' Wha wadna die for 
Cobden ?' doesn't come off somehow. And Macedonia 
would be much the better if the title were not so long. 
When I am prepared to shed the last drop of blood in 
my body for the Stuarts, she leaves off, and we fall back 
upon The Slaves of the Padishah. Really Jokai is an 
extraordinary boon in the midst of a world full of Gamp 
Gampant and Scarlatina. If there were a prize for the 
maddest novel in the world, I should back this one. It 
begins about twenty times over, and every beginning goes 
one better than the last. It begins with the Sultan and 
a gourd full of ducats it begins with a magnificent 
wedding and a fine triangular duel it begins with a 
monastery and a monk who can hold a freebooter up in 
the air with one hand it begins with a merchant who 
has maidens to sell, and firmly declines to sell the most 
beautiful maiden of all it begins with but perhaps you 
may be a little tired of hearing what it begins with. And 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

it never ends with anything at all. My conviction is, 
that we shall still be at the beginning of it when Dooms- 
day comes upon us and quite happy. 



(Of April.) 

The lark sings Vespers, the buds promise that they will 
flower to-morrow. The promise of this time of year 
is, I think, even more beautiful if anything can be more 
beautiful than the tender, brighter promise of the May 
certainly than the fulfilment of the ' high Midsummer 
pomps ' in June. I love the tracery of the bare boughs 
the light veils of green the song of the more joyous, less 
passionate birds before the nightingale has come. 



(Of the Chapel designed by Mrs. Watts at Compton, Surrey.) 
It is a Cemetery Chapel, but the cemetery is a small 
one, there are very few graves in it as yet, they lie on the 
slope of a hill, yews growing along the pathway that 
winds up through the trees, and at the top sits the 
Chapel in a corner, tall, angular, high-shouldered, the 
grave of Watts just beyond, the lilies withered, three 
wreaths of bay, of palm, of golden leaves. It is built of 
red brick, with curious terra-cotta reliefs of strange 
spiritual forms, knots, twined and twisted signs. Far 
away there are soft blue hills, and almost up to the door 
comes a field of poppies, after your own heart. The door 
looks Norman in the distance it's a kind of second 
cousin of the lovely little door at Bamborough but when 
you come close, it has, I think, something of a Moorish 
effect, from the rich linear decoration. There 's a little 
pierced belfry above the roof in which the bell swings 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 261 

clear. The whole effect is beautiful wonderfully living, 
I think, because there is such variety, and no two 
ornaments are alike. You open the door and stand in a 
dark circle of the most intense colour. (The windows, 
lancets, are of r clear glass, very high, tall, narrow.) It 
seems like a little daughter of St. Mark's. Angels, angels 
everywhere angels alternately showing their faces and 
their backs all with long, shield-like wings, meeting in 
a point under their feet, all their hands touching and 
swinging mystic bells. Round about, golden letters are 
traced ' The souls of the righteous are in the hand of 
God,' and ' Day unto day uttereth speech.' I looked in 
vain for ; Night unto night.' Lovely cherub heads adorn 
the ceiling. There is a tall candlestick in gesso like the 
angels, with ' The candle of the Lord ' and four little 
figures a figure of Body carrying a shield with a naked 
child on it, Mind with a lantern, Soul with a butterfly, 
Will (the priest) with a wheel. I can't describe the rich 
gloom, the glowing enamel-lit darkness, the peacock flash 
here and there round a cherub head, the gleamy mother- 
of-pearl. There is a golden altar, richly wrought. Above 
it a small painting, a hooded, heavily draped woman 
Death, I suppose brooding over a globe which she holds 
in her hand. I don't know what I wanted (have been 
trying in vain to think ever since), but it was not that. 
It gives me a curious feeling of vague disappointment. 
What did I want ? 

There are no words at all over the beautiful old- 
fashioned lych-gate, when one looks up instinctively, 
thinking to see ' I am the Resurrection and the Life.' 

Close to the chapel outside is a recumbent cross of red 
stone, in the same style, over the grave of a woman, at 
the foot Courage, at the head A mo, on the arms Amavi 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

and Amabo, round it some Emersonian George Elioty 
inscription about hearts that beat with the world's great 
heart not being able to die. Curious, how one resents 
the modern look and the modern sound of words like that 
in such a place. Have they got it in them to grow old and 
full of silence ? Will they, two or three hundred years 
hence, sound as Jeremy Taylor sounds to us now ? If 
there had been only the three words : 

I have loved. 

I love. 

I shall love, 
that cross would have been perfect. 



I cannot help wanting statues in a Cathedral. It 
is our fault if we bother about who they are. ... Is 
not one conscious of a want ? Surely they are the most 
beautiful ornaments of all ? Mere transitory men and 
women are too slight. You want stone men and women 
to humanise the stone men and women that will last, and 
connect all the fleeting generations at their feet. You 
want to see faces, just as you want to hear music no, 
not just as, but in a different way ! Does it not say 
something for statues too, that the Greeks, the great 
sculptors, adorned their buildings thus, and the mediaeval 
people, the great builders, did the same ? 



Fve got so much fresh air into me that I can't 
write. Do you know the feeling ? You are so contented 
that you are dumb ; everything in you is satisfied. How 
different it is from the rapture of happiness of people who 
understand each other ! So incommunicable too ! You 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 263 

can never make any one else understand that you have 
been in heaven. They think you 're cold, or you 're by 
yourself, or you haven't got a chair to sit on, or some- 
thing. 

O blessed loneliness ! 

O lonely blessedness ! 

A hermit-crab am I by nature, and shall be, to the end 
of my days. And yet the human kind is a very good kind, 
and kindly human too. The little church here is sweet. All 
day it stands open, and you can run in when you like and 
see the sun shine through the wings of Angels. The 
power to do that is more to me than many services. 



I spent a happy hour with a friend . . . among the 
old water-colours at Agnew's. Oh ! how I love those old 
water-colours. Did anybody ever understand English 
elms and English rivers slow, sleepy things as De Wint 
did ? He is a late passion with me, and a very strong 
one. In the days of my youth when I wanted fairy-tales, 
I had no eyes for him. Golden and blue and grey Turners 
there are too. O ! we want these delights of London 
here. We can't get on in the dark without them. 



. . . Hippotytus was exquisite. Such a pathetic 
Phaedra tall, dark, willowy, throwing her white veil 
over her head in a way that showed one the ancient 
queenliness of the familiar kitchen-grief gesture of the 
apron. How charming was the old belief that all wrong 
passion was the work of the gods, so that you could 
always be profoundly sorry for every one and never felt 
shocked or angry. The love-charm of the Middle Ages is 



264 PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

less majestic somehow more of a toy, and, to my sur- 
prise, more hard to believe in. I felt a compassion for 
Phaedra that I do not feel for Iseult. It is greater to be 
the victim of ' The Cyprian ' than to be the victim of a 
stupid, well intentioned other woman. Then Hippolytus 
selbst is such a glorious character. And the scene 
between father and son, the scene for that kind of thing, 
not even faintly approached even by Sohrab and Rustum, 
though I am very fond of them too. 

It was so satisfying to be calmed down by those perfect 
choruses after every harrowing moment. They did some- 
thing that an opera, and a play apart, can never do. 



... I have rapidly come to believe that construction 
is not nearly so important as people think. It is to a 
book what morality is to a person. But there are 
delicious books without any construction at all, and 
delicious people with no morality. I wrote this letter on 
top of a "bus last night when all the lamps along the 
Brompton Road were flashing gold and mauve and 
crimson. Hence, you perceive, its brilliant incoherence. 



We read d'Annunzio, Paolo e Francesca, which is 
desperately hard, and I peg away at his poems. But it 
is rather like Heine with the wit left out, and I get tired 
of his being so tired of everything. Still he is very 
beautiful ? But Plato would never have let him go near 
the Republic. 



He must have been a very Dantesque man that wrote 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 265 

Revelation. I should think Dante made for him first of 
all when he reached Paradise. I am beginning to wonder 
seriously whether it is worth while for a woman of nearly 
forty-two to read anything except St. John and 
Shakespeare. 



How I do like The Descent of Man ! . . . The way in 
which beasts, birds and fishes, all make love to each other 
is quite delightful. Fishes appear to be the most 
romantic wooers, but there don't seem to be any constant 
lovers, as far as I can make out, except pigeons, bull- 
finches and wild duck. Tame ducks immediately take 
several brides. 



The tortoise has all (Vs heart. She rubs his shell with 
globe-polish. He seems to me to be such a very curious 
result of a diet of flowers. He eats nothing excepting an 
occasional buttercup, yet there he is, the prosiest animal 
you can conceive. It is as if a city man were to read 
nothing but Yeats and Austin Dobson, and yet remain a 
city-man. 

I have fallen deeply in love with the Eastern weapons 
at Hertford House. They remind one of the armoury in 
that wonderful and awful poem of Browning's ' A For- 
giveness. 1 They flicker in their shape like flames, and the 
gleaming jewellery sets off the horror of them with the 
daintiest beauty. Even the weapons of the Renaissance 
are curiously straight and dull and devious after these. 
The cold moony glitter of steel everywhere fills one with 
dreams. 



266 PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

Some time ago you wrote me a beautiful letter out of 
a garden. I waited for another garden to answer it. It 
seemed to me as if a garden ought to answer what a 
garden had said. But though I was twice in an ideal 
garden once when it was beautiful with all the aid that 
man could give, a place that had been an old tilting- 
ground and now lies bright with flowers disposed after the 
Italian fashion, like a jewel among the Northumbrian 
moors once in a place where it was beautiful with 
scarcely any aid from man, j ust a wild tangle of flowers, 
trees, bushes, ivy, clematis and an old wall though it 
was twice the place, it was never the time, for the sun 
and I rarely happened to go there at the same hour, and 
when we did, I could not resist looking at him. And 
now the season of gardens is over, and the strange season 
of the tracery of bare boughs is about to begin and I 
cannot delay any longer. . . . 

I liked so much the thought that you had, that we may 
' some day go with the bloom and be with it always ' ; for 
spring is to me the dearest of all seasons, and I grudge 
every day of it as it passes. Autumn is a fine colourist, 
and winter etches even better than Whistler could, but 
there is nothing like the spring 

And I called down a blessing 

On the blossom of the May, 
Because it comes in beauty, 

And in beauty blows away. 

Do you know any of Yeats 1 poems ? I am afraid of 
boring people with them, they seem to me so beautiful 
with the pathetic, tremulous beauty of Irish airs. The 
trees led you to the poets, and the poets to sympathy 
and I was so glad to find that you identified it with ima- 
gination. Imagination only makes frost-work unless 
it is compact of sympathy. 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 267 

Certain ages, like certain people, are never understood 
by certain others. To those who like angels to be all 
white, and devils all black, the confusion of such a period 
as the Renaissance is merely horrible. It bewilders and 
distresses them to find that even Savonarola played a 
double game ; they can see no celestial justice in the fact 
that even Lucrezia Borgia, when she became a Duchess, 
was rather good. 1 

Conduct was, to an extent undreamed of now, the 
theme of public discussion. Every one got up every 
morning with the impression that everything was an 
open question, and there were very few family secrets, 
because there were very few actions left of which any 
one felt ashamed. . . . They have vanished, those rulers 
exceeding magnifical, who made the most of both worlds. 
Their Golden Roses are lost, their palaces even Belri- 
guardo, the fairest palace in Italy are gone. But the 
Golden Rose of their art and their poetry blooms yet in 
the Muses' Garden, and Fancy builds the famous walls 
again whenever she sighs over to herself the soft-sounding 
name of Ferrara. 2 



How absurd to suppose that seeing ourselves as others 
see us should give pain ! It is to see ourselves as others 
see us that we provide ourselves with looking-glasses, that 
we have our portraits painted and our photographs taken, 
that we rush to plays by Mr. Pinero. 

Art is an odd thing, isn't it? It's almost the only 
thing that seems to me to remain unchanged throughout 
one's life, and it does away with all possibility of hell, and 

1 From The Times Literary Supplement. 2 Ibid. 



268 PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

all necessity of heaven. You forget the dead too, and yet 
you know it is no treason to forget them there. And you 
forget yourself. 



I am so glad you have not got any books. Never, O ! 
never, begin to have any ! If you do, they all marry each 
other, and increase at the rate of half a library per annum. 
Then, when you have lived in the house forty-five years 
they have all got grand-children, and there is no room in 
the house for anything else whatever. 

(From Dresden.) 

Whether the Raphael Madonna still speaks Italian 
I do not know, for speak to me she will not. The 
truth is, I don't love her as much as I used to, and I 
believe she knows it. The Rembrandts are overpowering, 
especially 'Manoah's Sacrifice.' Manoah and his wife 
are kneeling together, rapt and humble, he a shade more 
humble, she many shades more rapt, her eyes closed, 
and the contrast of their folded hands enough to make 
one cry. There is an ineffable loveliness about her robes 
of blended white, soft yellow, and deep red. What a 
marvellous instrument red is, and how various in the 
hands of the great masters ! It means such different things 
with Titian, Diirer, Millais. 



It drives me mad when people call Rhodes 'an 
Elizabethan," and say he is like Drake, of all people. 
Drake wouldn't have touched him with a pair of tongs ; 
at least I hope not. I am pulled up in my want of 
charity by remembering that Gordon distinctly liked 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 269 

and wanted him ; but would he have liked and wanted 
him now ? 



We read the Life of Dickens of an evening. There 
is much that attracts, and something that repels me 
about him ; I think, for one so deep in feeling, he was 
curiously superficial in thought. But what a wealth of 
genius ! How it comes tumbling, bubbling out in his 
private letters ! He doesn't care how often he misses, 
because he knows he'll hit just as often, and so he has 
his fling at every subject in the universe. And he lives. 



I delight in the new metres [in Robert Bridges'* 
Demet&r\ though ... I often come to grief over them. 
I 've been reading Tennyson's Demeter, which is lovely in 
its own way, but much less deep. The mother and 
daughter are altogether human. Well, so they are in 
the new one! but there's just that strange touch of 
remoteness of far-away divinity that makes it all 
different. Don't you love the crystal crown and the 
purple robe, and the grandeur of innocence? People 
are so apt to think it is only simple; they forget 
the awful dignity of it. There's a beautiful sonnet 
of Charles Lamb's that brought that home to me 
once. 



(Of Shakespeare.) 

I stayed at home and read Two Gentlemen of Verona. 
What a distracting play it is ... why did I never find 
it out when I read it before ? That 's the charming thing 



270 PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

about great writing, it 's never the same twice over. When 
you come back to a place that you haven't been to for 
years I can't quite make up my mind whether it is most 
comforting or provoking to find it exactly the same, 
after all the Continental changes that one fancies have 
occurred in the geography of oneself. But when you 
come back to a play, you come back to find all the 
people saying perfectly different things in perfectly 
different voices. It seems odd that the women should 
be so much more cunningly drawn than the men. How 
many Julias one has known, gentle, jealous, generous, 
egotistic women, with a dash of vanity ! Silvia is much 
more romantic really, though she doesn't go the length 
of a page's dress. She never thinks about her reputation, 
she doesn't strike the balance of her charms enthusiastic- 
ally, like Julia. But she knows instinctively that one 
romantic person will help another, and that there's a 
sort of Freemasonry of sentiment, and it's this that 
makes her little relation with Sir Eglamour so pretty. 
I feel sure, too, it's her pure romance that makes her 
care for Julia, whom she has never seen, merely on 
account of her sad story, and makes her give her picture 
to Proteus in the most inconsistent way, when she sees 
through him the whole time. I don't understand 
Valentine's speech in the last Act about giving up his 
rights in her to Proteus. It jars one. What did it 
mean? That Valentine cared much more for that calf 
Proteus than Proteus did for him is evident. But to go 
that length and the very minute after he had found out 
Proteus's treachery ! Of course, active, manly men are 
very oddly influenced sometimes by men with a greater 
gift of flowing speech. But nothing can make it seem 
natural. I suppose it is natural, or it wouldn't be there. 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 271 

I am reading Troilus and Cressida over again, very 
slowly, inch by inch, scene by scene. ' Turn it about and 
turn it about for there's everything in it,' the Rabbis 
used to say of the Bible. One turns it about and turns it 
about and it is there ; everything in Shakespeare, except 
the Bible. Even Robert Browning is there 

' Things won are done. Joy's soul lies in the doing.' 

I should have thought that was R. B.'s if I had met it 
' howling in the wilderness,' as S.T.C. said of a line of 
Wordsworth's. And this is not much less like him : 
' In the reproof of chance, Lies the true proof of men ' ; 
only it is better said. How repulsively Cressida is 
introduced. . . . She repels me even more than 
Cleopatra. . . . who is on too big a scale for one to mind 
much. 



(All's Well that Ends Well.) I thought Helena was 
magnificent in Act i. that she might be reckoned as 
one of those women who have ever proposed for men 
and kept their charm the two others being Webster's 
Duchess of Malfi (she had to, because, though a perfect 
gentleman, he was only her steward) and (but this is a 
far cry, because it's a much slighter thing altogether, 
and she hadn't much charm to keep) Cherbuliez's Sarah, 
in Apres Fortune Faite. 

It's impossible to feel that the Duchess loses dignity 
for a single instant. She's far more beautiful than 
Helena. After Act i., it seemed to me Shakespeare 
fought shy of the real problem, and lost himself and her 
in a maze of tiresome intrigue. But I believe S. T. 
Coleridge thought the subject impossible. . . . How much 



272 PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

more delicately and poetically Hero manages her plot to 
catch Beatrice, than the men theirs for Benedick. The 
thing that passes me is how she could possibly forgive 
Claudio all in a minute like that. Claudio is impossible. 
The only point in his favour is that Benedick solidly 
liked him. I suppose he was a good soldier. And he 
does have one or two exquisite things to say. ... I 
don't think Beatrice would have been the true heart 
she is if she had not yielded so quickly. Besides, I am, 
in my heart of hearts, almost certain that she did care 
before. He certainly did . . . The grande dame is not 
often a coquette, whatever else she may be ; there were 
more grandes dames in Shakespeare's days than there 
are now, I imagine, and women had not been taught 
so carefully that it was modest to pretend they did not 
feel what they did. ... I think Measure for Measure 
is one of the finest things that Shakespeare ever did, 
even among his marvels. ... I don't quite know how 
to bear Isabella's terrible explosion of wrath when 
Claudio reveals his baseness. It hurts like steel ; and 
yet, what else could she have said? The one blot on 
the play is that it is a play at all, and therefore Isabella 
is obliged to countenance the horrid truth about poor 
Mariana. The real Isabella could not have borne 
the thought of any woman being married to Angelo. 



To-morrow week I am going to see Hamlet and 
Macbeth where Shakespeare never saw them at Strat- 
ford. By the way, is it not a delusion that Henry V. 
is his model King ? He makes him cold, heartless, cruel 
infinitely less attractive to women than Hotspur. 
Can't think why everybody adores him, just on the 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 273 

strength of Crispin's day, and forgets his treatment of 
Falstaff, Katherine, his own father, and the prisoners. 

They didn't deal in ideal men in the days of 
Elizabeth. They were extremely practical and so is 
Henry V. Still they had a tendency to consider in a 
practical way what Heaven would think of them and 
their doings one sees it in Henry's prayer ; he knew his 
cause was bad the whole time. 



We went to Macbeth the other day. Glorious ! It 
sent me on for a week. Funny that all those daggers 
and ghosts and witches and things should leave one 
perfectly reconciled and happy and stroked the right 
way. But what a very stupid woman Lady Macbeth 
really was ! Fancy thinking that other people would 
think that two men would commit a murder and then go 
quietly to sleep, each one having just arranged his blood- 
stained dagger neatly on his pillow, for every one to see. 

One can never be unhappy oneself without knowing 
that all griefs are (in a way) relations. And the uncer- 
tainty of one is the uncertainty of all. Then the comfort 
that must come is the comfort of all, too. They do 
bear it, they are helped to bear it. I think, more and 
more, that the unity of men is most wonderful and the 
Unity that underlies, that overarches all. 

I think with you about the way Silence prompts one 
to worship ; I suppose it is the voice of God calling. 
To be silent means to feel oneself alone. ' And there is 
no place so alone, which He doth not fill.' 

s 



274 PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

In the Abbey and at the Temple they sang, In dulci 
JuUlo. ' Would that we were there ! ' Don't you love 
it ? And how I wish I were somewhere where you could 
l)e decently good without fighting people all round. 
I really would like to be good, only I hate fighting 
people. Why is it such a desperately difficult business ? 
Would that we were there ! 



It is as difficult to be humble as it is easy to despair. 
Despair's a very conceited thing, but I might as well 
hope to be Michael Angelo as to be humble. The grace 
of the lowliest is only given to the highest. 



Death is become a more practical thing now it is 
palpably so much nearer than in the days when I 
thought it was going to happen to-morrow. But it 
seems much farther off, as practical things do. 

(ON THE DEATH OF JOACHIM) 

To me, when a great light like that becomes a star, 
there is a most strange mingled feeling of intense thank- 
fulness to have been allowed to be near it here of quiet 
triumph in the course finished of unspeakable grief at 
the loss, and fear lest that which was completely un- 
deserved should never again be granted me. 



If Robert Browning could grow old think what a 
youth his must have been surely we can. With love 
round us, and death before us, how can life ever be 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 275 

commonplace ? I know I think it can sometimes. And 
then I deserve to die ? No, to live to be ninety. 



Here is , writing to me as to whether there is any 

room for angels ' in our new conceptions of earth and 
heaven.' Our new conceptions ! If earth and heaven 
are not going to be any better than that, welcome the 
neant. I for one can't conceive any heaven that I 
shouldn't be tired of in a month ... I suppose it's 
because she 's such an angel herself that she thinks they 
can't be dispensed with so easily. 



I don't think you would have disliked the allusion to 
Peter warming himself, if you had heard it. It was 
casual and passing no stress was laid on it. Perhaps, 
without meaning to do so, I gave it undue importance 
from the fact that it appealed to me because I am myself 
the slave of warmth, and have so often neglected a duty 
because I was mesmerised by the fire. 

I don't quite understand you about Pilate. Surely his 
strength, at any rate, was not ' to sit still.' He sat still 
and washed his hands, and it was all wrong. If he had 
' put a decisive act between himself and temptation,' he 
would have seized his chance. What he did was the 
weakest thing he could do, not the strongest. It is only 
when sitting still is the hardest, most difficult course, 
that there is strength in it ? Again I sympathise. I have 
so often made my own temptations much harder in the 
end, because I did not pluck up courage enough to do the 
decisive act, when I knew it ought to be done. We are 
not taught that we should let the temptation get as bad 



276 PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

as possible before we try to do anything ; else why should 
we pray ' Lead us not into temptation ' ? 



More and more as life goes on I feel as if one of the 
big temptations of it were to rest content with negative 
ease and freedom from worry, and to forget that that 's 
only the body of happiness and not the soul. Looking 
into the fluffy white heart of an oleander, the other day, 
a kind of rapture at its uselessness came over me, at the 
divine heedlessness of anything but glory and beauty at 
the making of it. 



Self-sacrifice is the noblest thing in the world, but to 
sacrifice other people even for the very noblest things is 
as wrong as persecution. 



I was thinking of Mat Arnold's Buried Life only the 
other day. It has the beautiful strangeness, still more 
the beautiful familiarity of the truth of art to the truth 
of life. The greatest artist could not understand it if 
he had never lived it. It would have been double-Dutch 
to Goethe. Therein you and I have the advantage. 
What a funny thought ! Hush ! 



Two or three times I have had that awful overwhelm- 
ing horror of death; but it has always passed, and 
though I daresay it may come again, I don't mind so 
much now because I think it has more to do with the 
body than with the mind, and is not a reasonable thing. 



PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 277 

As you say so beautifully about our life, so it is with 
that part of it which we call death, 4 we are in God's 
hands.' There must be something dreadful in the 
thought of the change. Our Lord felt that more even 
than many men and women do but I cannot think the 
change itself, when it comes, will be dreadful. There 
are so many worlds to see all the stars. And more 
and more, as they search space, they find there is not 
such a thing anywhere, no emptiness, only more stars, 
more worlds. And don't you sometimes have the feeling 
that we could see much better if we did not have to look 
through eyes, if we were all sight ? . . . I used to feel 
as if we could never know each other again and must get 
lost and be, as you say, ' different,' but as I grow older, it 
seems that love is to the soul what life is to the body, 
and if there's any meaning at all in the soul's life it 
must mean that life never ends. I don't know. We are 
all in the dark about it. But Hope is Hope none the 
less because she is blindfold. Only when some one dies, 
all thoughts are swept away and all reasons, and feeling 
is left alone ; and we can only feel desolation and God. 



We read William James ... I cannot make out the 
subconscious self. For three-fourths of a big volume he 
proves in the most conclusive way that it 's a fool, and 
then he seems to say it's God. V. says this is very 
helpful just as wonderful as Evolution and sure to be 
the Science of to-morrow. If so, I am very glad I live 
to-day. 



It comes to me that what we seem to need we are not 



278 PASSAGES FROM LETTERS AND DIARIES 

given. Joy cannot be born of necessity. There is need 
of patience and need of peace, but no cry of need will 
bring joy. 



I lay for some time letting the sky wake me. From 
the bed you see nothing but sky. It was not ' the body of 
heaven ' in his fulness, it was a thin wash of faint, almost 
transparent blue. I began to think how tremendous it 
would be to go out on a morning like that and stand 
alone with God, conscious that the earth-life would never 
rush in dividingly. Savonarola was in my mind and 
that bit of Johannes Agricola. ' For I intend to get to 
God. For 'tis to God I speed so fast. 1 All that I felt 
passed into one deep human longing, I don't know how 
or why, except that below the surface all feeling seems to 
be one. There came those words, ' We never know what 
God is till we have given up something for him.' I have 
given up nothing and don't feel called to, and am as 
happy as can be. 



UNPUBLISHED POEMS 



UNPUBLISHED POEMS 

LINES 

STAY with me, happy Day ! 

Fly not away ! 

Dost thou think, when thou art fled, 
I shall but love thee better, being dead ? 

Not so, not so ! 
To-morrow I shall say, 

' Twas long ago ! 

He lies, for ever shorn of rainbow wings, 
Among forgotten things.' 

GRIEF AND DEATH 

DEEP joy was mine, I owned a fountain fair 
That watered with its soft refreshing dew 
The plants and flowers that in my garden grew 
And made them spring and bud and blossom there 

And boasting of the world without, I spake, 
4 Come sit within my honeysuckle bowers, 
And breathe the sweet scent of my lily flowers, 
And listen to the song the waters make.' 

Strong grief was mine, I gat me forth alone, 
Into my garden dry and bare I stept, 
And laid me down upon the grass and wept. 
No ear, divine or human, heard my moan, 
For joy bids welcome all the guests that come, 
But sorrow hath no voice Despair is dumb. 



282 UNPUBLISHED TOEMS 



TO ONE WHO WAS NURSING A 
BLIND FATHER 

THE other day 

I thought and thought and ever thought again, 
How, while I sat in joy, apart from men, 
In perfect joy of sun and sea and air, 
You sat within the reach of nothing fair, 
In darkness with the darkened. Then and there 
Intolerable pity broke in prayer 
Hushed by a whisper those wild words above : 
* How dar'st thou pity whom I greatly love. 1 



TO 

DEAR, you are on the road to fame, 
And I, upon no road at all ; 
But wander where men's voices call, 
This way and that ; no two the same. 
And thou wilt make thyself a name 
To captivate and to enthrall. 
And when the dusky years shall fall, 
To live in characters of flame. 
Yet to one goal our footsteps tend, 
Though diversely they wander here, 
Where we begin will be our end, 
And I, the nameless, do not fear 
That thou wilt e'er forget, my friend, 
How once we called each other Dear. 



UNPUBLISHED POEMS 283 

TO AN OLD FRIEND 
Now when the sweet sunny weather 
Quickens all that once was dead 

I remember how we two, 

You and I, I and you, 
Wandered about the streets together, 
Reading the books that had to be read, 
Saying the things that cannot be said. 

The world was young, and we were younger 
In those bright forgotten days, 

I remember how we two, 

You and I, I and you, 
Read and read for the spirit's hunger, 
Walked in the old familiar ways, 
Talked and talked for each other's praise. 

The world is young, but we are older, 
Many a book we shall read no more 

I remember how we two, 

You and I, I and you, 
Vowed that love should not grow colder, 
That we would love as we loved before, 
And the years should make us love the more. 

TO TIME THE COMFORTER 

DUMB Comforter of woes ! 

The depths of whose deep comfort no one knows ; 

Whose consolations on the spirit steal 

More gently than Love's gentlest word ; and heal 

Where Love falls back affrighted ; only life 

Proves Thee the Comforter of mortal strife, 

Of all that doth begin and end that He 

May speak in thy dread silence endlessly ! 



APPENDIX 

NOTES OF THE TABLE TALK OF 
WILLIAM CORY 

AT SOME GREEK CLASSES WHICH HE GAVE FOR 

MARY COLERIDGE AND OTHERS 



THOSE who knew William Cory, the poet who gave us lonica, 
the historian who wrote The Outlines of English History, still 
more, the inspired teacher, the erratic scholar of genius, 
may in these notes of his talk get again some likeness of the 
man they knew. They will recall his posture, as with a 
kind of fierce but timid abruptness, he uttered the words 
here recorded, sitting deep in his arm-chair, his head, so like 
that of Cicero, bent forward, his hand over his eyes a habit 
of his due as much to shyness as to short sight until, 
warmed by his subject, he would suddenly raise them and 
an unforgettable flash of intellect electrified and enlightened 
his companions. 

Such notes as these are bound to be disjointed, partly 
because so much which they recount concerned the lesson 
and what arose from it more than this, because of William 
Cory's miraculous power of teaching twenty things at once 
which seemed to have nothing to do with the subject on 
hand. So that you were in the midst of the French Revolu- 
tion or the law about English Juries, when you thought you 
were learning the First Aorist or mastering some dates in 
Greek history. And this quickness of his never left you 
bewildered; indeed it made you clearer than before, a 
result helped by his rich gift for illustration, for analogy. 
His own comparison of the Greek tongue to a plant with 
tendrils growing one from the other well describes his 
way of teaching, and the fashion in which his ideas and 
images sprang spontaneously each from each, making a 
unity out of many things. Mary Coleridge wrote down his 
words as she caught them, at the Greek classes that he held 
for her and three or four others, and she often caught them 
brokenly, without the links that bound one topic to the 
next. To preserve the living freshness of her account, I 
have added no explanatory comments excepting where the 
connection between passages seemed absent. And this 
Prefatory Note is only written for the sake of such as have 
never seen him, and so have no memory of his person to 
lend force to their impression of his talk. 

EDITOR. 



NOTES OF THE TABLE TALK OF 
WILLIAM CORY 

Feb. 3rd, 1886. Snowing hard, when E and I 

got to the Swiss Cottage, so we took a hansom, saying, 
or trying to say, the verb %pao> as we went along. 

4 T'I %/o^ytta ; what is the creature doing ? ' said E 

dreamily, in sore anxiety of mind as to whither the man, 
who did not know his way, would drive us next. It 
sounded like a new kind of interjection. 

Mr. Cory opened the door ; he was surprised to see us 
offered us brandy, hot water, etc. 

' What have you given him ? The fare 's 2s. Settled 
by regulation. (An extra 6d. bestowed.) Remember, 
that 's for your horse. 1 

The lesson was on Xenophon's Memorabilia, Lib. i., 
cap. 1. 

7rX?70ouo-77? ayopas, when the market-place was full, i.e., 
at noon, rather at 9 A.M. A friend of mine from Japan 
told me that they have no market or place, or public, 
open-air place of meeting and discussion there at all. 
The Japanese are tame. They were well tamed 250 
years ago. When I was at Corfu, I used to see the 
people there, men and women, as they went to their 
work in the morning, gathering together and talking, 
just as they did at Athens. 

#007405 : 1st meaning (as of mundus) Order. 



288 NOTES OF THE 



-forces in plural ('violences' in Balm and 
Balan). Xenophon means to express that Socrates did 
not get into a scrape with the people of Athens by con- 
tradicting the popular belief that each particular thing 
had been created by a special god at the beginning. 
4 Who did get into a scrape ? ' 

Blank silence. 

e Diagoras. A most interesting man. You '11 find all 
about him in Grote. (Grote was a splendid fellow him- 
self ; loved the truth.) Once, when he was out at sea, a 
storm came on, and the sailors wanted to throw him 
overboard make a Jonah of him saying that the storm 
had been sent because he was an atheist. He pointed 
to all the other ships that were tossing about on the 
waves, and asked them if they thought that all those 
had atheists on board them.' 

[A propos of people not being able to make winds and 
waters, however much they knew.] It is not true that 
knowledge of how a thing is made is useless unless you 
know how to make it ; but in some cases the double 
knowledge is ours. We can now make ultramarine instead 
of having to cut up lapis lazuli for it. 

7Tv<fai<l>i(rai 9 put it to the vote. The reason you ladies 
have no votes is that you can't fight. There's your 
friend, the cabman ; I 'm afraid he '11 be your enemy by 
the time you 've done. 

The gods know everything always. If Socrates really 
believed this, there was no particular force in it, because 
it was universal. The very essence of belief in divine 
communication is, that it should happen at some times 
and not at others. 

/eaXo? /cayaOos means a perfect gentleman everything 
that one would wish one's son to be. 



TABLE TALK OF WILLIAM CORY 289 

Religion can only be taught by the example of a life, 
not by texts nor precepts. Empedocles was a great 
teacher. Matthew Arnold worked him up into a 
poem. 

E said she had read it. 

I am gratified to hear it. Very few people have. 
When it first came out it fell so flat that this ill success 
of his second work quite damped Mr. Arnold's genial 
courage. I met him afterwards, and he was pleased to 
hear that a few people at Cambridge had liked it. 
Abelard was another great teacher. 

Many great teachers are mythical, you know. Luther 
is not, but then he does not appear quite so amiable. 
Socrates wonders that any one possessing virtue should 
take money for teaching. 

Xapiv elSevat, is the common expression for to be grate- 
ful. There is no proper equivalent for our ingratitude ; 
a^vwfjLoaiivf] is not the same thing. There's a little 
touch of vulgarity in the thought of any reward at all. 
Modern times have gone further. There was a person 
called S. T. Coleridge, who lived at Highgate, who wrote 
some lines about giving out light like the sun, whether it 
is absorbed or reflected. 

Unless the cultivation of virtue be corruption is not 
very brilliant wit on Xenophon's part. Homely worsted 
stocking compared with the shot silk of Plato. 

We use few Perfects except the word ought. Such 
words are only curiosities in English, but practical things 
in Greek. There is frightful over-substantiving in 
English. If you look at an account of a meeting in a 
newspaper, and the resolutions passed, almost all the 
verbs seem to have disappeared. 

There was a rotten and superstitious way of learning 



290 NOTES OF THE 

by heart the Greek verbs that govern the genitive. A 
man called Coleridge, 1 a great teacher, was horrified to 
find I didn't know it. All those things are far better 
learnt by observation. Attic is the clipping of the 
Ionic. 

Siarpi/Bct) is rub away, spend time, live then essay, 
from the idea of rubbing away time while writing. 

8ia0pv7rT6/jLevo<; one of the most amusing words we 
have To break in pieces, break down, pat with the 
hand, enervate. Tryphena and Tryphosa. 

[Here came the ' conclusion applied to the case of 
Critias and Alcibiades. '] 

Alcibiades was a smart young gentleman, nephew of 
Pericles, a beautiful person. The Athenians had that 
respect for blood which is innate in man. We like the 
historical nephews of famous historical uncles. There is 
Mr. Trevelyan in our own day not that we care much 
for that. Alcibiades went with his pet quail to pay 
a large contribution for some national purpose ; he 
belonged to a rich family. All the Athenians applauded. 
The quail flew away. Every one who was there rushed 
to try and catch it for him. 

E . ' And did they catch it ? ' 

' Some one had that honour.' 

I said I thought it strange that Xenophon should say 
of Critias and Alcibiades that, being young, they were 
probably most ungrateful. 

6 Yes, it 's a curious word. If you don't get gratitude 
then, you won't get it afterwards.' 

[Our gratitude, being young, was constantly too much 
for us. Payment, when it was proposed by our elders, 
had been shortly and sternly refused. At the very first 
1 Edward Coleridge, tutor at Eton College. 



TABLE TALK OF WILLIAM CORY. 291 

lesson Mr. Cory took occasion to exemplify some rule of 
grammar by this sentence : 4 1 love to teach without 
being paid for it.' 

We used to bring a bunch of flowers for Mrs. Cory 
sometimes. I took irises, knowing that he was very fond 
of them. I never see them now without thinking of him. 
The cyclamen was another favourite. He had a gold 
brooch made for ' Madam ' in the form of one, but it 
looked heavy. 

The repetition of a number of words of the same kind 
bored him, and he would cut short our translation by 
saying : ' The band as before ! ' in imitation of the 
Vicar who declined to read ' the cornet, flute, harp, 
sackbut,' etc., in Daniel over and over again.] 

... "The Scotch used to be the great people for 
style. I learnt about it first from Blair's Lectures. 
Nowadays it's supposed to come of itself to be a gift 
and so it is with a few people. 

There are different ways of saying Yes <J)TJ pi irdvv JJLCV 
ovv, etc. The Romans got on without it. In modern 
Greek it is yitaXto-ra, a very heavy word. Is the German 
Na used for No? I have just been reading the life of a 
man who said he could not enter the German Army 
because all soldiers had to be confirmed, and when he was 
asked if he believed the Faith, he could not say Ja, as he 
did not believe a word of the preparation, ' Say Na ! ' 
said the Minister who had prepared him. And the Na 
passed unnoticed among the crowd of Jas ! You must 
emancipate yourselves from the word become, when you 
translate [ ? ]. You cannot say of soldiers fighting : 
They became brave men ; it must be ' proved themselves." 

. . . The Greeks had an office for seeing to the respect- 
ability of foreigners ; a proper citizen became responsible 



292 NOTES OF THE 

for every one. Modern nations would do well to imitate 
this especially the Swiss. 

Xenophon was himself a renegade, a traitor ; but some 
people are very hard upon him. He was disgusted with 
the Athenians for their treatment of Socrates. He had 
his son brought up in Sparta. Demosthenes was a 
political saint and consistent to the last. Xenophon was 
not. Theognis lived at Megara, near Athens. He was 
a vehement Tory hated Democrats. The early politics 
of Greece are woven into his poems and those of Solon. 

dSoKi/jios is disapproved of ' castaway ' in the Bible, 
where it should be translated unqualified-, the image is 
taken from citizenship shows St. Paul's knowledge of 
politics. 

The Roman word for rvpavvos is Dictator. When a 
Dictator prolonged his power indefinitely, like Julius 
Caesar, he was said to be Rex a term of horror. The 
whole doctrine of Constitutional Government is: You 
must show cause either before or after what is done for 
the nation. Sometimes, of course, you have to do the 
thing first and ask leave afterwards. The Greeks had 
graduated taxation, about which people fuss so now, and 
they don't seem to have minded it." 

[Before the lesson ended, something turned his mind to 
Henry Bradshaw (Fellow of King's), Cambridge, and the 
friend of William Cory as of so many others. ED.] 

..." Hospitality was innate in him. He never had 
to learn it as other people have. He gave as an open 
stream gives its water to every one that comes, because 
he could not help it." 



TABLE TALK OF WILLIAM CORY 298 

March ZkMay 19, 1886 

PLATO^ ' APOLOGY ' 

" Such easy, trickling talk ! In Plato it is all talk and 
not artificial speech. This is his art. Few men can 
make a long period grammatically ; others are carried 
away by their grammar to say things they never meant 
to. A friend of mine once said to me : ' Plato is like a 
vegetable. 1 The sentences grow ; they are like delightful 
things with tendrils. The position of the words is the 
delightful thing ; the constant surprises. The man you 
have got in the first few lines is already remarkable. 
Socrates is not a humorist not a wit he delights in 
playing. He was no martyr; there was no touch of 
inspiration in his simple resolve to stay at his post. It 
was just obedience to law. I know no man so interesting 
to the imagination who did so little attitudinising. 
There are plain acts and transcendental. The captain 
who refused to give up the keys of his magazine to the 
mutineers and tossed them into the sea was not courting 
death. He merely stuck to law and didn't care. The 
man who saved a lieutenant from being hung off Spithead, 
by putting his own head into the noose, acted transcen- 
dentally. Both were heroes. 

The germ of an Established Church is in the demand 
of Socrates to be maintained as a public preacher. If he 
had conducted a Dialogue with them in his own way, 
they would have talked perhaps for an hour and a half, 
and then only arrived at one point. . . . 

The time allowed for speaking was measured by a 
water clock. Rather hard when a man was speaking for 
his life ! It is very curious to think that he had to speak 
to 500 people. 



294 NOTES OF THE 

o ?ra? %poz/o? (the whole of time), the right expression 
for eternity. If there is a ridiculous thing in modern talk 
it is the distinction between time and eternity. 

If we were disposed to be very hard on Socrates, we 
might say it was a pity, when he spoke of those whom he 
hoped to meet in the other world, that he mentioned 
people like Palamedes and Ajax, whose injuries he wished 
to compare with his own, instead of those who were 
really worth knowing ; but here we get a really character- 
istic bit. 

di/eferao-To? /8to?, life uncriticised by oneself as well 
as others. There is nothing more central and cardinal 
than this in all the writings of Plato. Self-knowledge is 
got by talking to others; certain people whom one 
happens to know once or twice in one's life serve 
as a kind of touchstone. Happiness consists in right 
thinking. 

Socrates is ra /jberewpa (frpovTiarrrjs, a transcendental 
speculator what Aristophanes called 'an ai r- tread er,"* 
and Napoleon ' ideologue ' a doctrinaire in politics. 
' None of your metaphysicians ! ' George in. said. In 
The Clouds the two \6yot,, the better and the worse, 
are personified. Aristophanes represents the common 
sense of Athens. As the enemy of Socrates, he is of 
course our enemy. Common sense lapsed between the 
entry of the barbarians into Rome and the middle of 
the last century. It was re-discovered by Johnson 
' None of your cant, Sir ! ' 

The ancients were always striving after cosmogony. 
' No, gentlemen, I assure you I have nothing to do with 
these things, 1 says Socrates. It was a waste of time. 
See Mill's Logic. Nearly two hundred years after 
time of the second Punic War came Archimedes. One 



TABLE TALK OF WILLIAM CORY 295 

hundred and sixty years after, Lucretius, contemporary 
of Julius Caesar. Seventy-three years after, Pliny, with 
his Encyclopaedia. The Schoolmen, puzzling themselves 
over such questions as 'How many angels could dance 
on the point of a needle ? ' were their legitimate suc- 
cessors as it were, grinding at a mill, with nothing 
but wind in it. But there is no doubt they exercised 
their minds in this way as schoolboys exercise theirs 
with Euclid. 

The worth of literature depends on the power of a 
book to exalt the character of an individual or a 
nation. Scott did this. Literature is not worth much 
at present. 

Bolingbroke, Robertson, Hume (who envied Robertson) 
and Gibbon (who envied both) were masters of English 
style. 

The French talk in crystals and write in crystals. 
The Greeks sometimes did and generally did not. The 
Latins cling to a rule till it becomes almost monotonous ; 
the Greeks have no sooner made one than they delight 
in breaking it and kicking up their heels. Some of the 
Greek words are transparent. It is like chemistry you 
can see the idea forming. Some of them catch hold of 
one's mind like creeping plants. 

The Greeks at one time hated the sound of ns ; such 
a word as /er)v<ro? (census) in the New Testament would 
have been a monster to them, nBek is an escape from 
TiOevs. We are most unfortunate in the words relation, 
connection in-law. I wish they could be changed; but 
not even Gladstone can do that. Fancy having to call 
your sister-in-law a relation ! The Latins were happier 
with their consanguineus and affinis. o> is the sign of 
the vocative. The Greeks never meant us to groan over 



296 NOTES OF THE 

O ! as the Latins did. The participle is like ivy it must 
grow over a trunk. If we can't find the trunk, we must 
imagine it." 

[When we went wrong, our master would say : ' I 'm 
afraid you must sit in sackcloth and ashes for that ! ' 
When we were right, he would say, as if he were pleased : 
' You 've been taught,' or ' it does you credit ! ' very 
rarely: 'If you can make out that for yourself, you 
needn't come up to Hampstead.' Then we were very 
happy when we went down the hill to the station, how- 
ever cold it might be. And the next week we would be 
there on the stroke of the clock. 'What feverish 

punctuality ! ' M , who came all the way from Eton, 

occasionally took a hansom, but she always dismissed it 
a few doors off, for fear there should be comments on 
the luxuriousness of the habit. The first thing that we 
saw on entering the hall was a water-colour sketch of 
the Piraeus. Terrible accounts of fires, cut out from the 
newspapers, were stuck up all about, as a warning to the 
servants not to be careless. The dining-room was used 
as a study. As Spring came on, a budding elm-tree 
outside made it pleasant ; and there was always a bird 
in a cage, and sometimes a blue kitten, who distracted 
our minds. I do not know that Mr. Cory was so fond 
of the kitten, but he was very fond of the bird. ' He 's 
happy. He does not know that he will die.'] 

..." The Imperative is the root of all verbs. A baby 
uses first an Interjection, then an Imperative. Its 'Da' 
always means ' give it to me.' Reduplication is simply 
stuttering. It is most evident in the Imperative because 
that is the most impatient mood. The secret of con- 
versation is the comparison of notes and not strife. It 
is waste of time to finish our sentences ; we should suggest 



TABLE TALK OF WILLIAM CORY 297 

by them, as when we quote, or say the first words of a 
Psalm. We make too many bow-wow speeches. 

elpcovela originally the dissembling of one's own 
powers. 

\arpeia is the higher form of Opijo-Keia, that ' pure 
religion and undefiled ' of which St. James speaks. Some 
object to the use of dprja/ceia in that verse ; others like 
it. How great must the Christian religion be, if the 
mere Oprja-Keia, the outward and visible sign of the 
\arpeia, is this ! 

The Theaetetus always seems to me the great example 
of the clumsiness of your true hero -worshipper the 
donkey playing at being a lap-dog, eh ? what Jesse 
Collings is to Chamberlain. Two of Socrates' dearest 
friends Simmias and Cebes were Thebans. Interesting, 
because they must have overcome their national hatred 
to learn of him. The Spartans fought the Athenians 
like gentlemen, but the Thebans fought them like wild 
beasts. There was a pretty poem by Edwin Arnold 
about a young man of Megara. I made it into an 
exercise." 

[Later on, Mr. Cory gave it to me. Here it is, just as 
he tore it out. But it was far more beautiful as he told 
it, his voice breaking.] 

EXERCISE LXXXV 

Juvenis Megarensis 

There was near Athens a town called Megara. The 
nearer they are the more do cities quarrel. The enmity 
between the Athenians and Megarians was for some years 
so great that, if any Megarian came across the frontier, 
he was put to death by the Athenians. 

A few days after the war between these cities began, 



298 NOTES OF THE 

Socrates was sitting at night on the bank of the Ilissus, 
near the plane which used to give him shade by day. 
Hearing a noise he raised his head, breaking off his 
meditation. Then he saw a lad stretched before his 
feet, panting. He recognised a pupil called Apodemus 
of Megara. The lad said, ' Oh, master, be quick ; con- 
verse with me; tell me what you did not plainly tell 
when you talked with the others. The watchmen of 
your people are pursuing me ; the laws of your people 
condemn me to death for daring to come hither. Teach 
me what you know about the soul of man." 1 

Then did the master clear up that which he had left 
doubtful about the second life. 

The moon broke through the clouds, and when the 
light was shed on the bank, Socrates saw Apodemus 
pressing his side with his hand, and blood flowing 
through his fingers. The watchmen came rp too late. 

[There followed a tamer tale of e? thusiasm for 
knowledge. ED.] 

. . . " A pretty little bit of English History how the 
peasants near Cambridge turned out to resist the build- 
ing of an anatomical Museum and Whewell sallied forth 
against them at the head of the Undergraduates. 

Banishment is not known to English law. Lord 
Durham was told he had made a great mistake, because 
he banished a man from Canada to Bermuda. 

The precedent for Socrates' 1 case is that of Diagoras, 
the Melian, who suffered as a o-T^Xtr?;?. 1 He is supposed 
to have been a very innocent person, by no means an 
atheist. They were mistaken in their heat. 

We have three investigations in England before the 
Magistrate, the Grand Jury and the Petty Jury. All 

1 i.e. posted as infamous. 



TABLE TALK OF WILLIAM CORY 299 

that is more important in politics than in criminal 
matters, because people get excited over politics and 
condemn straight off. See S. T. Coleridge's Piccolomini. 
The Athenians, with their great and beautiful freedom, 
did not always wait to wash a thought in many waters 
in other words, to read the bill twice before they voted. 
They voted too quickly, but in the great historic instance, 
when, in a fit of anger, they had voted a general massacre 
of the people of Mitylene, they changed their minds and 
repented. There is nothing in Grecian History like the 
history of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. I 
do not know whether you will agree with me, but I think 
the thirty tyrants were worse than Robespierre and the 
Terrorists, for they were not afraid of each other and 
they had the Spartans to back them up. They had been 
brutalized by the long war. The early plays of Aristo- 
phanes (The Acharnians, etc.) are gay and mirthful, but 
we can trace in their increasing bitterness the hardening 
of heart of the people. The last three with female names 
are scarcely read now. In The Acharnians he glorified 
his S^io?, his parish, as Sophocles glorified his in the 
Oedipus Coloneus. A man cared more about his &}/u,o9 
than his fyvKrj or tribe. There were about one hundred 
and sixty (Smith says one hundred and ninety) Srjpot,. 
There were originally ten tribes, but two more were 
added after the Macedonian Conquest, when the popula- 
tion increased to 500,000 which is still under that of an 
English county. 

Democracy is abolition of privilege, equality of citizens. 
It is opposed to Oligarchy, not to Aristocracy, which 
may perfectly co-exist with it. Pericles was picked out 
for thirty years by the will of the people. ' Justum ac 
tenacem, etc.' This was quoted by John de Witt upon 



300 NOTES OF THE 

the rack ; it is therefore sacred to all politicians. Grote 
was the first man who explained constitutional morality. 
Young men used to be sent to Edinburgh, to Dugald 
Stewart, for wisdom ; he taught political economy and 
regenerated it. 

There is a contrast between The Maccabees and the 
last struggle of Greek heroism. The courage which is at 
its last gasp is always tremendous. There was a legend 
that the Athenians were seated in the theatre when the 
news of Syracuse arrived. Strangers were present. They 
had all lost sons, brothers, and friends in the defeat, but 
sooner than betray their grief they sat the whole play 
out, letting the fox gnaw them. If true, it beats the 
Spartans. A grand thing the national pride ! " 

May 26Jtme 16, 1886 
CRITO 

[On May 26, E. S., M. C., and I began the Crito. 
Mrs. Cory 'Madam 1 as she was always called to 
us was giving some one a lesson in needlework in 
the next room. We talked about the Athenian 
maidens, the epyao-Tivai,, the way they spent their 
time weaving the TreTrXo? of Athene for the festival 
of HavaOrfvata some standing at their looms, some 
telling stories to the rest.] 

..." There was one of them a delightful girl her 
epitaph says : l She was a delightful companion at wool- 
work, and always chattering.' 1 

The very beginning of the Crito ' Is it not yet early ? ' 
is a stroke of art ; it shows us that Socrates was not 
agitated, that he slept perfectly well. It was "opOpo? 



TABLE TALK OF WILLIAM CORY 301 

j3a6vs when Crito came to the prison, deep dawn 
literally deep twilight the beautiful time when the birds 
are singing and the sky is not yet clear. Word- 
mongering boys were misled by the classics to credit 
the hen-birds with song, because in Latin they were 
philomela and alauda, etc. I was prohibited by my sight 
from being a close observer of Nature. 

'To-morrow, Socrates, you must end your life,' says 
Crito. That he needn't have said ; I think it shows a 
little want of taste. The Italians, I believe, are famous 
for avoiding any allusion to the ugly event. 

Morning dreams have a certain horrible reality, because 
we wake directly after. Cicero refers to this in his 
Essay on Divination. 

In the Crito the arrangement of sentences is not 
merely grammatical, but musical. Lysias Plato's con- 
temporary has none of that life, sparkle, rattle. Greek 
prose generally is disappointing. Except Herodotus, no 
prose author, after Plato, gives me much pleasure. 
Demosthenes does now and then but more from the 
downright character of the man himself which shines 
through. After him, Thucydides. 

There are numbers of Greek words beginning with <rvv. 
If you try to write English, you are haunted by words 
beginning with con. 

The Greeks expect you to be on your mettle when 
you read their books : opfyavla is the story of an 
orphan. 1 One of the few discoveries I have made in 
the course of my long and weary life is, that it does 
not mean orphanhood. <$>\vapla a kind of plausible 
intellectual humbug, talked not by a stupid but by a 
silly man. 

1 He seems to be alluding to Plat. Crit., 45 D. 



302 NOTES OF THE 

The Greeks looked on Very middling I 
as a good expression ; we think it a bad one. . . . 

Philosophers must have new words, but if there were 
not absolute anarchy in this country, they would submit 
them to a scholar keep out of the vile Greek words at 
which the Greeks would have shuddered. Their language 
is a perfect magazine. The Romans went to it just as 
we do. In the days of Diocletian about 310 they 
delighted in Greek terms. 

Greeks and Romans were particularly fond of such 
expressions as walking through a thing, when they meant 
narration. Discourse is running to and fro. . . . 

Going to the Olympian Games would be a dewpla, some 
religion in it, but chiefly fun and curiosity. Horace tells 
you about the Corybantes; all his cooked-up enthusiasm 
does not move the reader in the least. The Athenians 
would not often have such spectacles. They were too 
licentious. Cybele's was a rowdy religion. Athene's was 
the respectable one. 

The Roman rulers had a horror of these things. People 
who joined in such worship were severely punished. 
There was an attempt to stop it in the second Punic 
War. All this explains the persecution of the Christians, 
not by a Nero but by such a man as Marcus Aurelius 
a conscientious man a reader of Plato. They thought 
Christianity would destroy family life and all the 
disciplina Romana. Pliny about eighty years after 
Christ and seventy before Marcus Aurelius said the 
Christians were good, orderly people, but their worship was 
conducted at night, and this drew suspicion upon them. 

'Why do you care so much about the world's opinion ? ' 
Socrates says to Crito. ' You must weigh people, not 
number them/ 



TABLE TALK OF WILLIAM CORY 303 

They do not talk as we do of honour and conscience. 
is the word expressing the great Greek quality 
which is the foundation of honour ; and the other thing 
which restrains you (e.g. keeps you from throwing a 
stone too hard lest it rebound on you) is Nemesis, 
retribution. They are not exactly moral ideas, but 
sentiments of the mind, from which moral ideas arise. 
Read Mallock's beautiful translation of the chorus from 
the Hippolytus in The New Republic. 

What we look upon as the most absolute law of all, 
the Greeks looked upon as anarchy. Tyranny was to 
them a human earthquake. This feeling was revived in 
France. Amyot's Plutarch Clement Marot's Psalms 
were the rage. Philippe de la Noue was that sort of 
character. Cardinal de Retz said that our Montrose 
was like one of Plutarch's heroes. Catherine of Russia 
is absolute power tempered by assassination and 
epigrams. 

'You deliberately stuck to Athens as a limpet 
sticks to a rock,' Socrates says to himself. It's very 
amusing that he should be chaffing himself here about 
his stay-at-home ways just at the end of his life, 
too. There is a jolly Greek proverb: AeiX?; eVt TrvOfjuevi, 
<et&o ifs a poor thing to spare the dregs of a cask. 
This is Tennyson's Ulysses. That 's one of the poems that 
do affect character not like those of the confectionery 
school. Socrates might have argued too that it would 
be wretched for his disciples to see him dependent on 
casual kindness and stripped of all his dignity. Dying, 
he left them an honoured name. He could not have 
escaped." 



304 NOTES OF THE 



June 16 July 28 and October 6 December 22, 1886 

PHAEDO 

" Phaedo says of those who were with Socrates on this 
last day of his life, that they sometimes laughed, some- 
times wept. 

It seems strange that they should have laughed. 
Laughing at a man and laughing with him are very 
different actions. The laugh of sympathy and enjoy- 
ment is a moral thing; it saves men from going mad. 
English men laugh more than Greek ; if two or three of 
them are together and they do not, it's a sure sign that 
something is wrong. Women are not like this ; Homer 
says of one that she laughed with tears in her eyes. A 
hard laugh is very horrible. It was one of the things 
that troubled me most at Eton, to hear the boys laughing 
in that way. . . 

Later on, the word eV^eXtto-a? is used of Cebes. It 
may mean smile. I 'm inclined to think this gentleman 
didn't laugh. I'd rather he didn't. A laugh would 
have been rather a discord, unless it was a very low, 
soft ripple. 

Xanthippe beat her breast for sorrow. What made 
people do that? They say a child will beat a chair 
against which it has hurt itself. I don't know. I never 
saw it. Animals don't do that kind of thing. I once 
tried to get a dog out of a trap that had hurt it, and 
it bit my hand. There is a new theory that burnt 
moths do not suffer. It's more like the devil than 
anything that I know the botheration of a possessed 
moth. 



TABLE TALK OF WILLIAM CORY 305 

It is amusing that Socrates should have had the child 
brought to him in prison and he doesn't seem to have 
had much feeling for it. 

He is one of those rare people who enjoy youth for its 
own sake, its freshness and flexibility, not for the sake 
of its flattery. We have nothing like it. Dr. Johnson 
and S. T. Coleridge were poor copies. Bennet Langton 
flattered, and none of the young men who came up to 
Highgate talked much themselves. . . 

Tracra ^i>%?7 aOdvaros All soul is indestructible, says 
Phaedrus. Plato would not have denied the immortality 
of animals and plants. It is impossible to mark off man 
from the rest. There is no break anywhere, though there 
may be, and are, gaps in the record . The power of motion, 
as a test for distinguishing animals from vegetables, has 
been proved useless. The sum of spirit is constant ; that 
the sum of matter was constant had been proved before 
Plato. Pre-existence learning is recollection it's the 
prettiest fantastic notion, but he doesn't make much of 
it. We say ' Self-evident,' where he says all this. When 
a child says to you, ' Silly to tell me that,' it is self- 
evident to him that two and two make four ; but it is 
extremely difficult to see how and when the knowledge 
comes. I suppose no one ever watched a child more 
closely than I did my little man for the first three 
years of his life, yet I could not find out when these 
things began to dawn upon him. Questioning must 
be fair, of course TL^arcoviKw not y8a)ftoXo%<9. 

As Olympiodorus says, You must not try to catch your 
victim out, like the interrogator of that unfortunate 
man who, when asked whether he did not admit that 
two and two make four, at length replied in desperation, 
4 Not till I know what you are going to infer from it.' 

U 



306 NOTES OF THE 

Diagrams were originally things that were drawn 
across on a table of sand. The inconvenience of it was 
that you could not take the sand-table with you. ' I 
will bring you this man from the dust and the little 
stick,' says Cicero. A pulvere is not from the dead, as 
one would imagine, but from the sand-tabk^ and the 
little stick was the stick with which diagrams were drawn. 
This man is Archimedes, whose tomb Cicero discovered 
and identified by means of the figures of a sphere and 
cylinder 1 on it an antiquarian find which greatly 
delighted him. Archimedes lived two hundred years 
after Socrates, in the sunset of the Athenian glory. 

Aristotle, the grandson of Socrates, by intellect, was 
taught by Plato, and taught Alexander. Demosthenes 
was the last Greek who enjoyed freedom. Rome over- 
threw the brutes of Macedonians, but in the end she 
had to overthrow Greece herself. Seventy years after 
the death of Archimedes, Aemilius, the second Africanus, 
quoted Homer at the fall of Carthage. But Rome 
treated Greece as a man treats a lady, and ( Conquered 
Greece conquered Rome,' says Horace. . . . Antisthenes 
was the original founder of the Stoics. Whatever earnest- 
ness there was in him survived in them. They influenced 
the Roman character and law. Wonderful so strong a 
people receiving so much from those they overcame ! The 
Greeks admired the Romans too. The Epicureans lay 
alongside the Stoics. Wherever Calvinism has been, 
there the country has strengthened. The Greek Stoic 
books have all perished, happily for us. Epicurus was 
the favourite philosopher of gentlemen . . . Athens has 
the full credit of being the mother of the Stoics. They 
were the Church the Franciscans, so to speak the 
1 Cic. Tusc. 23 and 64. 



TABLE TALK OF WILLIAM CORY 307 

solid result of Platonism. Their central notion was 
Virtue, not the immortality of the Soul, etc. The Sroa 
Hoi/cfar) (painted Loggia not Porch) was their place of 
meeting, where they walked up and down talking, as we 
did in the cloisters at Cambridge when it rained. Zeno 
studied Socrates from the books which his father brought 
him back, when he went to trade with Athens. Zeno 
and Sphoerus connect Socrates with Cleomenes, 240 B.C. 
else you can't account for the Spartan getting those high 
notions. Cleomenes, and his brother, Agis, were some- 
thing like the Gracchi at Rome, 120 B.C. Agis persuaded 
the people to restore the Spartan monarchy, to throw off 
the authority of the Ephors. It was like the restoration 
of the Mikado in Japan. He appealed to the good old 
mythical laws of Lycurgus which probably never existed 
as, in after times, Englishmen appealed to the Witan 
to the law of Edward the Confessor to the Parliament 
of Simon de Montfort. Agis was a George a Socialist 
a retrograding transcend en talist like the Emperor Julian 
and the late King of Prussia (the brother of the present 
man). Levelling up was his plan. All ardent reformers 
are on the edge of anarchy at any time. They wish the 
world to be free yet their plans could only be carried 
out by our giving up our freedom. He was hanged with 
his mother and his grandmother. (Women were great 
at Sparta; they had immense property.) It reminds one 
of the old saying : ' The blood of the martyrs is the seed 
of the Church.' 

Pythagoras and his disciples anticipated Christ ; they 
were persecuted after Pythagoras's death. Marcus 
Aurelius (whose real name was Antoninus) was the 
latest of the Stoics 'the last Rose of summer.' He 
gives thanks for his teachers most of all for his mother, 



308 NOTES OF THE 

who was a religious woman. His son, Commodus, was 
a wretch, and the worst of it was, the poor father knew 
it, and had the strength of mind to disinherit him. 
But he thought a bad successor would be better than 
a disputed succession. He had the honour of causing 
the death of some of the sweetest people who ever lived 
the Lyons Martyrs, Blandina, etc. The link in the 
catena connecting him with the Stoics is Epictetus, 
whose book dry reading now influenced him more 
than anything else. 

The ' spiritual man ' of St. Paul is Plato's philosopher. 
Unworldliness is philosophy. 

The Greeks did not get beyond Panhellenic patriotism. 
' Our glory is that we have spent more money for all the 
Greeks put together than any State ever spent for itself. 1 
What Demosthenes means by ' glory ' is the keeping off 
of the barbarians on behalf of all the Greeks. Lucretius 
says the right thing is to pity every one who is weak. 
That's the outside of what you can get one hundred 
years before Lucan. . . 

Epicurus, too, was a good soul ; invented pleasure 
gardens not gin, nor brandy, nor anything of that kind. 

Chillingworth, the Cudworth School, tried to revive 
Platonism in their lives, but I won't undertake to say 
they were of the slightest importance. Any one who 
did so now would be a tepid prig. Darwin and Faraday 
were the two philosophers of my day; Clerk Maxwell 
was too odd. 

Malesherbes, the advocate of Louis xvi., is described 
as 'fearing nothing hoping nothing interested in 
everything that is good.' Nor was he without im- 
agination. After the trial, he found the king very 
mournful. 



TABLE TALK OF WILLIAM CORY 309 

THE KING. " What am I to do for those poor clerks 
who laboured so hard for me ? I have nothing where- 
with to reward them." 

MALESHERBES. " Embrassez-les ! " 

If you want to find something that looks like an anti- 
cipation of modern thought Keats, Shelley, Coleridge, 
etc. read the Pliaedrus. You can't talk of the soul and 
the body as if they were flour and sugar ; all this is im- 
possible to the modern mind. When a man like Mr. 
Shorthouse brings out Platonism again, as if it could still 
be taught, it 's an anachronism. Plato's soul is a sort of 
person a captive woman. 

The Fathers of the Early Church delighted in such 
passages of the Phaedo as get near the Manichaean doc- 
trine of the evil of matter Manes ; asceticism ; the 
people who didn't wash and stood on pillars. 

Note the difference between Plato and Wordsworth in 
the great Ode. One says that all our life we are recover- 
ing the ideas we lost at our birth ; one, that all our life 
we are losing them. 

Faraday's forces would have delighted Plato ; they 
seem to be something like his ideas. 

Such is the power of rhetoric over the mind, and such 
the charm of language, that men cannot free themselves 
from metaphors. Doctors will speak of ' Nature.' Cebes' 
doctrine runs on all fours with the modern doctrine of 
the conservation of forces. We say force where we used 
to say matter. This is the raft on which we are floating 
now ; it may upset, of course. 

The other Dialogues are full of the eristic Sophists, 
etc., with whom Socrates had contended all his life. One 
charm of the Phaedo is, that there 's so little hostility in 
it. He just refers to them, but very tenderly. 



sio NOTES OF THE 

Except now and then in a dream, thinking is not 
possible for any length of time without words. ' His 
intellect is in a state of purity,' says Plato and the 
word means literally, tested by the sun. The Greeks had 
a fantastic notion that the sun exposed everything, 
which we should call a fallacy of observation. The sun 
does not show the purity of a thing it corrupts it. 
Deianeira found out the poisoned shirt by exposing it to 
the sun. True chemistry is only 110 years old. It 
began with Cavendish, Priestley, Lavoisier. There is a 
quarrel between France and England as to the first 
discoverer of water. 

7/e<ri<? does not represent our idea of creation as dis- 
tinct from making-, indeed they seem to have had no 
word for it. Theologians would tell you that no one 
but Jehovah had a right to say / am. 

It is a pitiable thing to think that the old Athenians 
had no glass to look through. Strange, that in Greek 
books there should be no reference to the stars as an 
image of stability! To the Greeks they were merely 
decors (Zwingli seems to have been the first person who 
noticed them poetically. There is not much of it even 
in Milton ; he decorates with the Pleiades.) They glorify 
the aldtjp, almost worship it. The ar)p would be within 
Ruskin's firmament roof. There was nothing beyond. 
. . . Nonsense about vaults and ' heaven-pointing spires' ; 
they point down. But I fancy the ancients really did 
look upon the sky as a sublime dish-cover. At first ' the 
harmony of the spheres' meant the distances between 
them ; then, from a misunderstanding of the word ' har- 
mony,' people thought they made a jolly noise as they 
went round. 

It is piteous to think that Socrates wasn't up to what 



TABLE TALK OF WILLIAM CORY 311 

the meanest child knows now about the formation of the 
leaf and the like. He had never seen through a micro- 
scope. What he ought to have done is this. He should 
have gone down on his knees and looked at a toadstool, 
or gone to Egypt and watched a pumpkin all day long, 
as he wouldn't have minded doing in his rigidity. I 
have no patience with a man who ties such knots as he 
does sometimes. Surely you may see one horse that is 
bigger than another and say so, without going home and 
making yourself unhappy about it. 

Plato speaks about the mummies of Egypt. How did 
he come to know about them ? Had he been talking to 
some traveller ? He employs the same word that is used 
for pickling ; embalm is certainly more handsome. He 
wrote for clever people. Wonderful, how they ever made 
out those old manuscripts all written in one line. Iso- 
crates says that Spartans may have a book, if they 
can find anybody to read it to them; that is the 
Athenian Pharisee sneering at the Lacedaemonian publi- 
can. Plato must have looked over and corrected his 
manuscript. Strange, that the ancients should have 
stopped just on the brink of the great discovery of print- 
ing, when they were so fond of seals ! Perhaps they liked 
their writing, or thought it a good occupation for their 
slaves. We know exactly how books were published in 
Rome. Some one read aloud, and 600 slaves wrote it 
down. Martial's Epigrams were sold for sixpence a 
copy. 

. . . Each great author is a new literary sense. People 
cannot conjecture what it is like, nor how big it is. 
Every book should be a key to reading other books. 
Phaedo has the perfection of urbanity of style, as Mat- 
thew Arnold would say. Again, there is the Greek taste 



312 NOTES OF THE 

for draggle-tail Baxter-ing ' the last words of Mr. 
Baxter ! ' Plato never finishes the sentence where we 
should. Perhaps it soothed the mind. Oddly enough, 
those who do finish where we should Lysias and Iso- 
crates are the very authors who bore us most in Greek. 

The arrangement of words is beautiful. Even Tenny- 
son, who knows more about it than any one, has to itali- 
cise now and then, to give the right emphasis. . . . 

It is by persisting in discovering antecedents that we 
shall be happy in future life if we continue reading 
Plato. . . . 

Infinite trouble have I taken, explaining the uses of 
the word av to generations now hoary-headed dotards, 
most of them, who know no Greek at all. 

Having learnt a little Greek, as you have now about 
twopence-halfpenny worth you might read Chrysostom 
and the New Testament. Any one who takes an interest 
in going to church ought to."" 

[I think he was rather surprised to hear that we gene- 
rally did read the New Testament every day. He said 
he had tried Revelation with some boys ; found it impos- 
sible too barbarous. We were warned against popular 
error the Constantinople creed vulgarly called the 
Nicene.] 

" Simon means snub-nosed. I have sometimes thought 
I could trace a dislike of his own name in St. Paul's 
writings. Paulus Aemilius glorified it for the Romans. 

KaQapfjua is a victim slain for a justification. At the 
@apyri\t,a, or feast of Apollo and Artemis, the most 
worthless criminals were beaten down to the shore with 
fig-sticks, to show their vileness, and thrown into the 
sea. So, too, there were human sacrifices at Rome, though 
Macaulay could not believe it. 



TABLE TALK OF WILLIAM CORY 313 

Generally, the Greeks had little idea of mental uncer- 
tainty. There is a little bit of Homer very unlike the 
rest of him about Castor and Pollux that used to 
haunt me as a boy. It describes the feeling. 

6 This way and that dividing the swift mind,' as Tenny- 
son says. So young Neoptolemus in the Philoctetes 
hesitates whether to behave shabbily as Ulysses bids 
him or no. 

' Take to the oars when you can't manage the sails ! ' 
says Menander. We have lost him and we mourn for 
Menander. He produced on the Romans the same effect 
as France on the English in Charles ii.'s time. 

Plato speaks of the nightingale, the swallow, the hoopoe, 
as singing-birds. There were nightingales in a grove near 
Athens. One would not naturally select the swallow for 
its singing ; most likely they noticed the way it twittered 
before it left for the winter. All the Athenians loved it, 
for it brought them news that the winter was over, and 
they could change their bread and figs for fresh green 
vegetables and have nettles for dinner. The boys used 
to go from house to house singing the Swallow Song. 
The hoopoe is the King of Birds in Aristophanes. 

There is an aviary in the Theaetetus. The birds are 
the ideas. You have them in the cage in your possession, 
but you must put your hand in if you want to get 
hold of them. 

He says the brain and the spinal marrow form the 
medium through which the soul acts on the body. 
Odd, the way memory is roused in a dream by touch ! 

In the Laws man is called ' the plaything of the gods.' 
Rather painful a thing for a bitter old man to say. 

. . . The association of ideas was taught by Locke 
(time of Charles n.) one of those people who invented 



314 NOTES OF THE 

good sense the second great teacher of the Whigs after 
Hooker (time of Elizabeth). Locke was supposed to 
have defeated Filmer, but Filmer's ideas have come up 
again lately. John Morley in his Lije of Rousseau is 
nearer Filmer than Locke. 

... Be careful not to interchange words that appear 
to be synonymous. One of the Christian Socialists, who 
prided themselves on being loose thinkers, wrote a 
pamphlet arguing that profit was wrong, because profit 
and advantage were the same thing, and it was wrong 
to take advantage of another! I only saw Mansfield 1 
once, but I could never forget it. 'Happy were those 
who knew him in this life happy will those be who 
know him in the next ! ' said Kingsley. 

In the Meno, virtue is said to come Oela jjuolpa, by a 
divine institution. I thought about it for many years. 
Then I appealed to a philosopher, who confirmed me 
when I said that virtue was a question of degree. The 
philosophical Pharisee is bad. ' I thank God that I am 
not as those other politicians are. 1 No feeling for the 
poor dear people who give themselves up for the public 
good ! I prefer Henry iv. to many Platos. There were 
two attempts to assassinate him after his change of 
religion. The first man only succeeded in wounding 
him on the lips. His Protestant friend, d'Aubigny, 
said to him, ' Sire, you have denied your God with your 
lips, and He has smitten you on your lips. When you 
deny Him with your heart, He will smite you through 
your heart.' Ravaillac did. 

Landor wrote a Dialogue between Diogenes and Plato. 
I never liked Landor much. He expatriated himself; 
no man should do that without the strongest reason. . . . 
1 [Charles Blackford Mansfield (1819-1855).] 



TABLE TALK OF WILLIAM CORY 315 

ap/3v\r) is a strong, clumsy boot; icoOopvos, buskin, 
fitted either foot. But the Greeks were not so particular 
about their boots as they were about their helmets. 

Attire is a word of exquisite charm for me : 
1 And ye shall walk in silk attire. 

[The talk here took a fresh turn. Mr. Cory digressed 
into poetry. ED.] 

" You know Matthew Arnold's Scholar Gipsy ? He II 
be remembered by that and Thyrsis when all the rest 
are gone." 

[Then before we knew where we were, he took us back 
to the classics. ED.] 

" The Romans had no good word for smell ; odorari 
comes only once in Horace. 

An eVtcTTaTT;? regulates your actions, but a 
can buy and sell you. No Greek admitted a 
no one indeed, except a slave. Happily we have kept 
the meaning of that word. 

t\?70, iXa#i, be kind, is used as a farewell to the gods 
where %afy>e, be happy, or eppaxro, be thou strong! is used 
to mortals. Our goodbye is God be with you! We can't 
help looking ahead. Everything we say is prospective, 
not retrospective. It "s one of the most curious laws of 
our nature apparently. 

In Greece, if you see the sun set, you always think of 
Socrates. So you do, if you see a bit of green grass ; but 
I did not ; nothing but green in the distance and that 
was blue. 

March 3 July, 1887 

ANTIGONE 

[The lesson began with a discourse upon Iambics. ED.] 
..." The French wrote Alexandrines with no caesura 



316 NOTES OF THE 

as far back as the fourteenth century. Look at Bertrand 
du Guesclin. You should put things together which 
run parallel, but are not acquainted with each other 
that 's the amusing thing to do in history. Books only 
give you things which are connected. Petrarch lived 
at the same time as Bertrand du Guesclin, yet there is 
no sense of monotony in him. The founders of the 
Royal Society were at work in Cromwell's life- 
time. . . . 

We are the children of the Romans and the grand- 
children of the Greeks. Of course it is crossed in us by 
the influence of the Hebrew. The Greek cadences give 
us the keenest pleasure almost more than our own ; 
at least we agree more about them. I expect I should 
not easily find any one in London who would agree with 
me that the most beautiful cadences are to be found in 
The Soldier's Dream. We enjoy our prose more than 
the Greek, grand though it be. Latin prose is beautiful, 
but too cosmetic. 

The Norman scribes spoilt our Anglo-Saxon spelling 
for ever gave us an inheritance of trouble. 

. . . How widely different is the French taste from our 
own ! Yet, in the days of Edward i. and Philip the 
Fair, England and France were gee-ing like two horses 
in an omnibus. They read the same books trash that 
nobody can get through now-a-days. Their lawyers were 
strengthening the crown in the same way, delighting to 
show that they were sharper than the ecclesiastics. The 
letters of Heloise, the nun, to Abelard are the only in- 
teresting thing in the five hundred years from Boethius 
to Petrarch. The only book of the Middle Ages which 
is still read eagerly and spontaneously is Thomas a 
Kempis. The works of Ubertino and others were 



TABLE TALK OF WILLIAM CORY 317 

swallowed up by it it was an Aaron's rod. I know that 
many people find interest and pleasure in Dante. I do 
not. I read him from a sense of duty, and feel virtuous 
afterwards. I have lately dragged myself through 
Paradise Lost thought it was a good thing to do on 
Sunday afternoons. Very fine, but very heavy. Felt 
when I had done 

What a good boy am I ! 

There were plums, of course." 

[And so back to the play. ED.] 

What a fuss at the beginning of the Watchman's 
speech! All this means, 'Enter Phylax out of breath.'' 
The Greeks had no stage directions, so they were obliged 
to put them all into the text, which led to every kind of 
niaiserie. 

rj /carei^e rov veicvv is the most monstrous enjarribement 
I ever saw. It makes me think that Sophocles was very 
young at the time, and didn't revise for a second edition. 
There are many passages in Antigone that show a want 
of art. Sophocles was not yet master of his tools. He 
speaks of 0e/u9, decree, doom. In the old days there was 
no distinction between legislation and judicature. With 
us, judges only make law in the sense of making the 
minor premiss. The major premiss is That no stealing 
is lawful; the judge says, 'The pickpocket has stolen, 
and therefore he must go to prison."* 

Sophocles was chosen to lead the army on account of 
Antigone. As a boy he took part in the thanksgivings 
after Salamis. He acted Nausicaa looked handsome 
threw the ball so charmingly ! This was in his own play. 
Antigone is very rough yet he had written many plays 
before he won the prize with her. Euripides wrote an 



318 NOTES OF THE 

Antigone ; in his version she marries Haemon. Though 
there is nothing perhaps so sublime as Aeschylus, 
Sophocles was a far better playwright than either 
Aeschylus or Euripides. Ladies should be interested in 
Antigone and Ismene, because they are the forerunners 
of Minna and Brenda of Caroline, the most delightful 
of all heroines, and Shirley. Antigone is an ange 
farouche ; she never uses Vocatives nor speaks to Kreon 
by a title, as Ismene does. Ismene is an amiable creature ; 
she suddenly plucks up her spirit, and surprises the world 
by running her neck into the halter. Nothing is more 
famous nothing has been more fascinating to young men 
than Antigone's answer to Kreon. It was so when I 
was young. Uncommonly good writing just there 
pointed and brilliant to the last degree ! 

Sophocles was a contemporary of Pericles. He saw 
the Parthenon in its beauty the Propylaea the entrance. 
There is a little Temple still which is perfect but for one 
Caryatid, who is in the British Museum. When you 
marry the Prime Minister you can have her sent back. 
They have had to put up a sham one. I doubt if 
they would wish for the Elgin Marbles themselves ; 
the curse of Minerva should have lighted upon Lord 
Elgin; they could not restore them, they could only 
put them into a Museum but they ought to have 
the Caryatid. These figures of women bearing burdens 
were types of the women who sneaked and let the 
Persians in. 

The meeting of Jocasta and Oedipus is one of the most 
powerful, vigorous things in any literature. In Theo- 
critus, Tiresias is a sort of dear old country clergyman. 
Jocasta hanged herself: it was etiquette for ladies to 
do so. 



TABLE TALK OF WILLIAM CORY 319 

Honour was understood in the days of Cavaliers and 
Roundheads. 

' I could not love thee, dear, so much, 
Loved I not honour more ! ' 

What Lovelace sang of, Spencer, Lord Sunderland, 
did." 

[After this he led us, by what path I forget, to charity, 
and its administration. ED.] 

..." To think we should have come to this that a 
Sister, writing to the papers, complains of ' the loveless 
charity ' of workhouses ! That should be a contradiction 
in terms. It was a pretty letter but there may be a 
seamy side. I saw a workhouse at Colchester, where 
every one seemed to be perfectly happy. The only things 
they wanted were soft woollen balls for the children: I 
sent them those. But they were the roc's egg there 
was nothing else left to wish for. . . . 

tfopo?, fulness of bread, brings on vfipw, insolence, 
which brings on drrj, infatuation, or ruin. All three 
degrees were summed up in Napoleon. It was his vppis 
which broke the heart of Louisa of Prussia, and made 
him shoot the bookseller. Campbell, at a great dinner, 
gave out the toast Napoleon to his literary brothers. 
Great satisfaction. ' Gentlemen, he was our best friend, 
he shot a publisher. 1 Loud applause. The Russian 
campaign was any. . . . 

It is one of the most curious things in language that 
our Bravo! should come direct from (Spafteiov, a prize in 
the games-, the word is found in the New Testament. 
Another curious thing : Franz Thimm, the bookseller, 
derives his name, not from the German (where th is rare) 
but from the Greek 6vp.bs which, he says, means power. 



320 NOTES OF THE 

Putting one thing and another together, I think it 
likely that I know as much Greek as Franz Thimm, but 
I didn't dispute the point with him. He says the word 
is on Greek coins, which have been found along the Baltic 
and are now in the British Museum ; the Greeks went 
up there for amber. He has a contempt for French 
and English, which is edifying. . . . 

The beginning of the State is the family. Insurrection 
is justified when the State begins to trample on it, so I 
side with Antigone. As a young man, I used to side 
with her altogether ; now I see there 's something to be 
said for Kreon. I once suggested as a motto Hominum 
optis pulcherrimum civitas KaXXtcrroz/ ecrriv epyov av- 
QpwTrwv TToXt?. I was flattered by Herbert Paul, who 
said ' I always thought that was Cicero.' . . . 

What an awful state of things in Matabeleland, South 
Africa ! There the tyrant sits at home, making rain and 
working magic. When he goes out to receive his people, 
if he sees any one whom he suspects of witchcraft, he hurls 
his asseghai at him, and the others just take up the 
body and bury it. He has a sort of Janissary guard 
called Impis, recruited from the children of hostile tribes, 
when he has killed their fathers and taken captive their 
mothers. I hope we shall punch his head some day. 

In the chorus on Man, Sophocles inverts the order, 
and the hunter comes before the agriculturist. No 
matter ! He was not bound to give a history of the 
human race. There is an excellent sketch of such a 
history in Scott's Tales of a Grandfather, written for the 
cripple boy, poor little Lockhart, who never lived to 
profit by it. It is taken from Adam Smith, who is 
seldom read now. Curious that one should owe to Scott 
one's first glimpse into these things ! He had that rare 



TABLE TALK OF WILLIAM CORY 

gift of explaining his own knowledge to others. Thou- 
sands of people have knowledge, but cannot communicate 
it. I was delighted so was Herbert Paul with a quota- 
tion at the end of a light article on Novels, in The 
Century : ' Ulysses is gone away, and he will never come 
back again.' Scott was just like the Wanderer whose 
wonderful stories kept the people of Ithaca sitting up all 
night. 

It is difficult to give the whole force of man in his 
manhood and valour. . . . 

Honey, wine, and milk formed the triple libation. 
Electra cut off her hair as well. Some years ago it was 
discovered that there was actually a pipe from the house 
into the grave, and that offerings were poured down it. 

Their great idea was to keep up the sacrifices. Of 
course, Sophocles and Euripides took cognisance of this, 
as Matthew Arnold takes cognisance of the Church of 
England. It was part of the normal state of things ; but 
Euripides, at any rate, did not believe in it. Aristo- 
phanes attacked him for undermining faith. The three 
libations are still customary. 

We hear of bowls headed or crowned with wine ; but 
I 'm afraid the Greeks were not acquainted with anything 
so good as champagne or pale ale. 

Horace, when he 's going out for a lark, says, ' I 'm 
going to revel like the Edonians.' They were the first 
to enjoy the grape. They liked getting drunk. 

Stringed instruments were holy, wind instruments 
rowdy. 

The Greeks got their food from Thrace. They couldn't 
live without it, any more than we could live without 
America. Agricultural countries are seldom or never 
extirpated. The Greeks pounced on certain spots (By- 



NOTES OF THE 

zantium, for instance) and occupied them, just as we 
occupy Sierra Leone ; the Genoese went all over those 
regions afterwards. It would be a great country, if it 
were not for the stupid Turks. Turks had not been 
heard of in the days of Alfred. They are Mongols. We 
know them first in Turkestan. They dared not cross the 
Hellespont ; they were kept back like witches, hundreds 
of years, by the running water. They didn't take Con- 
stantinople till after the founding of Eton. . . . 

It is assumed that, if the body remain unburied, the 
dogs will eat it. Very little about tame dogs in Greek 
nothing in the Bible. The dogs in Constantinople 
ate a sailor who fell down drunk in the streets one night. 
Everybody is obliged by law to take a lantern to protect 
himself against them. 

Traitorous gains. Money-making is the most innocent 
of occupations. Most unfairly, #ep8o?, gain, the most 
creditable thing in the world, comes to mean in the 
plural gainful processes, and hence cheating. . . . 

They say Plato spent a long time over the first ten 
words of The Republic. 

I. 523, ovrot, (rvvexQeiv, d\\a crvfJL$i\elv efyvv. Myers 
translates it, 

f Love, and not hatred, I was born to share. ' 

I never could do it so well as that. 

II. 354, 5, /cal (frOeyfjLa /cal dvejioev (frpovrjfjia /cal do"Tv- 
VOJJLOVS opyds. Uttered sounds flakes of thought ' strains 
that sway the town, 1 I rendered it in my translation. 
It is a crescendo; utterance soaring thought power 
of expression for others. Tennyson would be the v&ry 
man to put it into victorious English. Tempered strains ; 
I delight in the word temper. It is a great blessing to 



TABLE TALK OF WILLIAM CORY 

the British, that healthy power of being angry in season. 
Goschen has it. Few Frenchmen have. 

I am not an Englishman before the days of Eliza- 
beth. I 'm a Frenchman or a Scot. I don't care about 
the battle of Agincourt except in Shakespeare. The 
making of Shakespeare's mind was like the making of 
the world. . . . 

Hallam says there was no interesting literature between 
Plutarch and Heloise. . . . 

Enter Antigone. Here is the very girl HER we caught. 
That 's touching. How terrible is the pathos of Esme- 
ralda in Notre Dame de Paris ! I cannot read it in some 
moods. If they go on much further, we shall tear our- 
selves to bits with grief. I can't bear to read about 
Humphrey in Misunderstood. ... . 

[Here the bird in the window sang so loud that he 
had to be taken down. Mr. Cory could not see well, 
frightened him rather, and was full of pity for him, in 
the midst of all the grammar. ' Poor little fellow but 
did you ever see a Future Optative before ?']... 



June 8. 

[We did not get through as much as usual, because 
we went for an hour and a half's walk instead. Saw the 
Pond the West Heath Amy Laud (so called from an 
affectionate descent of one of Andrew's lady schoolfellows 

upon him), Alice Heath (after pretty Alice P ) 

Hawthornden, in honour of the poets Walter's Lawn 
Constable's tree Wild Wood (where Chatham was con- 
fined) Spaniard's Road Jack Straw's Castle, abode of a 
Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, socialists, pantisocratists, who lived 
without any servants the part where Richardson lived 



324 NOTES OF THE 

Keats 1 Walk (he fought a butcher boy and conquered 
him) houses of people who made their money by soap, 
blue, stationery a Church (Evangelical). ' The Gospel, 
as they understand it, forbids them to have good music, 
so we go elsewhere. They Ve built a good place for 
entertainments, which shows that there is still public 
spirit left.' . . .] 

At one point there was talk of invasion. 

Here I flood the Russians at Harper's Ferry. That 's 
a secret that has been told me. The people at the Staff 
College know it. Here, I tell the natives of Hampstead, 
we must make a last stand. 

[We spoke about his life in College at Eton. 6 No meat 
mutton, at least for three months. We used to fire 
batteries. I was sent to get ammunition, being looked 
upon as the steady man who had cash ; I could not have 
been of much use in any other way. We killed a frog 
once. 1 

He laughed very much, when he found that M had 

stolen a bit of broom, in spite of all his warnings about 
the penalty of forty shillings ; but said he wouldn't tell. 
Only just caught our train. I had no tea, because he 
was talking about heraldic lilies, and forgot to pour it 
out till too late. . . . The American War came on at 
tea-time.] 

" We behaved as badly as possible rejoiced in the 
dissension helped the South whenever we could. One 
of my pupils remonstrated with me after I had paid my 
subscription to the Society for the Emancipation of 
Slaves said it was the first time in his life that he had 
felt ashamed of me. At first the South had it all her 
own way. Then, when I was travelling in Scotland, a 
man came up to me and said, ' Vicksburg is taken. I 'm 



TABLE TALK OF WILLIAM CORY 325 

so glad. 1 We were as pleased to see each other as two 
Englishmen meeting in a strange country. Grant and 
Lee came together when it was all over Lee beautifully 
got up Grant poor and shabby ; but instead of going 
at once to business, they sat down and began talking 
about the old days when they had both served together 
in Mexico. 

It was one of Gladstone's good deeds, that he wiped 
out the memory of our wickedness by settling the Ala- 
bama Question, and paying the three millions. He 
examined me for the Newcastle; beautiful eye sweet 
voice modest manner asked me what sacra fero meant 
seemed pleased when I answered right. Yet, even a 
few years later, he began to show signs of the cloven 
hoof. I was in the House one night when his young 
Secretary, Stafford Northcote, made a cold, timid, care- 
ful speech on Education. It was the first speech of his 
that made any mark. ... It would have been kind in 
Gladstone, who spoke directly afterwards, to take some 
little notice of it ; but he never made the slightest 
allusion. I heard that Stafford Northcote was deeply 
disappointed. 

I have parted with every book I ever had from Glad- 
stone. One I sold to go down to Devonshire to vote 
against him. The bookseller said he had given too much 
he couldn't get as much as thirty shillings for it again 
but when I told him what use I had put the money to, 
he said it was all right and he didn't mind. 

June 15. 

[The conversation turned on a poem of Swinburne's 
and an article on Newnham in The Nineteenth Century.] 
" I 've read Swinburne's Jubilee Ode three times. Too 



326 NOTES OF THE 

long but the passage about the sea is beautiful. In the 
chorus on the power of Love 

evapyrj? /3\e<f>dpci)v i'/j,6pos ev\e/CTpov 
, TWV /jL6ryd\cov TrdpeSpos ev appals 
ajbd'os a ejLTraii $eo? 'A>o8tra. 



yap 

vvv S' tfSrj '70) /cauro? 
ea> (frepojjLai, rdB' op&v . . . 

it's very interesting that Sophocles should pass away 
from the luxury of a bit of Swinburne to that solid 
analogy. 

' When to the sessions of sweet, silent thought ' shows 
that Shakespeare was brought up as a lawyer but then 

's a stroke of genius." 

June 29. 

[This was just after the Jubilee. On the day Mr. 
Cory had stayed at home and read Beauchamp's Career. 
Ed.] 

" George Meredith is the greatest genius we have, next 
to Tennyson. 

[He meant to escort Andrew to the Naval Review. . . . 
He wrote us out a long list of the lives of different Naval 
commanders, and searched the house for ever so long for 
a copy of Peter Simple for me to take home and read.] 

" Your education has been neglected. You ought to 
have read it long ago. I lived on Parry as a boy." 

[M - went home with The Life of Commodore Good- 
enough. 

Odd tasks were recommended from time to time.] 

" If you wish for celebrity, you had better re-edit the 
o-Tpw/Aarefc of Clement of Alexandria." 

[Another day it was the Life of Ulrich von Hutten.] 

" If I were a girl, I wouldn't marry any one who was not 



TABLE TALK OF WILLIAM CORY 327 

a volunteer unless he were prevented by shortness of 
sight, or something of that kind. It's the only thing 
that saves us from conscription." 



November 17 18871888 

PHILOCTETES 

The Authorised Version goes on translating yap, for, till 
it becomes perfectly nauseous. In the case of the Epistle 
to the Romans, it makes the argument hopelessly confus- 
ing. I recommend total abstinence. 

[yap, for, was indeed as a red rag to a bull, when we 
were having our lesson. So was aXXa, but-, aXXa, was 
not but it was No! it was Do! it was a gesture 
it was a shake of the head. 1 /cat was So. icakws 
\eyeis was Very good ! parfaitement in ' waiter and 
chambermaid French. 1 ] 

..." The Imperfect gives itself no airs, but humbly 
follows the Present. For the root, look to the second or 
Strong Aorist. There's a wonderful bit of cursing with 
an Optative in Ajax. There was an old scholar, George 
Kennedy. A friend Faber, a very poetical man, who 
afterwards turned R.C., came into the room once, and, to 
his surprise and joy, found him reading the New Testa- 
ment, which was unusual. But all the old fellow said 
was, ' Rum fellow, Luke ! uses av with the Future 
Optative ! ' 

[Here a verbal disquisition brought him to the 
Parable of the Unj ust Steward. ED.] 

" The story is ironical. I cannot understand it other- 
wise. The unjust steward had feathered his nest, and 

1 A Greek could do nothing without gesticulation. 



328 NOTES OF THE 

went to live comfortably with the farmers. It's the 
lowest form of Christianity. . . . 

All Presents have an inceptive power. / teach you 
means / try to teach you. ' The half of my goods I give 
to the poor ' I give means / will give. That 's the most 
curious discovery I ever made. 

... In some parts of England whereby is used for 



' I know nothing by myself is against myself? 

. . . One is tempted to use the Psalms to bring out the 
strength of the Greek chorus. I wish I knew the 
Penitential Psalms by heart. I shouldn't be at a loss for 
language. . . . 

The Homeric alSei<r0' aXXfJXou? is the very principle of 
military cohesion. 

I used to think that Philoctetes, clearing away the 
weeds before the shrine, might be an allegory that he 
was a reformer but I have quite given that up. 
Neoptolemus leaves us in doubt as to his crime, and I 
believe Sophocles thought it more artistic. Some one 
told the head of your family there was no moral in The 
Ancient Mariner, and he said there was too much: it 
should have been like one of The Arabian Nights. 
Great things do happen from hidden causes. Virgil tells 
of people who came from a town founded by Philoctetes." 

[I said I did not like the tone of Neoptolemus, when 
he said that ' men must bear the lot given them by the 
gods,' and it was ' not right that anybody should forgive 
or pity those who, like Philoctetes, had voluntarily 
incurred misfortune.'] 

I think Sophocles means you to feel, at this point, that 
Neoptolemus is becoming an authority : he shows the 
development of the character. I must say I like books 



TABLE TALK OF WILLIAM CORY 

which set young men above old. They are so much 
better. Goodness begins to decline after 25 cleverness 
after 30 ; at 40 or 50 the clouds of vanity gather. It 
came to me while I was reading I suggest it with 
diffidence that Neoptolemus is like Bedivere. 

Thersites is a mixture of the snob, the bore, and the 
cad. Ulysses was more sure than the other man, 
Diomed, that he would get the bow of Philoctetes. 
They are like Paul and Barnabas ; one was the speaker, 
one the active man. I don't suppose Barnabas talked 
much he looked majestic. 

1. 1420, dddvarov dperrjv e<r i )(ov, ft>? 7ra/>eo-0' opdv. 

' / won immortal virtue, as you may see, says Hercules, 
much finer than glory. It makes one think he was 
transfigured. His poor body had been spoilt when he 
entered Heaven. Hebe came with the Amrita cup of 
immortality. 

1. 508, iraQelv fj,ev ev, nraQdv Be ddrepa. 

Odrepa, the other things, is a euphemism for icaicd, 
evil things as my friend Herbert said, when he wrote 
home, a little before his death, 'If you don't send the 
money, they will do the other thing? meaning of course 
that the brigands, who had taken him prisoner, would 
kill him. There were three friends. The fourth was a 
good fellow too a foreigner, I think. When the 
brigands settled to let one of them go, to arrange about 
ransom, knowing of course that he would never come 
back again, the lot fell to Vyner; but he made Lord 
Muncaster go in his place, because he was a married 
man. He died in his stead. They have a memorial of 
him at Oxford. 'To the dear memory of Reginald 
Vyner,' it begins. No man was more devoted to me 
than Herbert. 



330 NOTES OF THE 

[Of the difficult passage 836838 every one 'had a 
dream, had an interpretation," and each of us was very 
much pleased with her own. Mr. Cory heard us out, 
and then said quietly, ' I hope you 're all contented. I 
give it up. . . .' 

We talked about words such as ILO\WV put in only 
to fill up the line. I said there was a good deal of that 
sort of thing in Tennyson's Harold.] 

"There may be. I should be very proud, if I had 
written Harold. There 's a great deal too much of it in 
Shakespeare; he says everything. Le secret tfennuyer, 
c'est tout dire. Sophocles beats him in self-restraint; 
that's his elpcoveia. But Shakespeare wrote for the 
stage, and you have to sacrifice a good deal to explain 
everything to an audience. I approve of Henri/ IV. 
not of Lear. Lear's such a fool in the beginning, I 
can't take any interest in him. I delight in the audience 
at a French play in London. De Musset's Caprice and 
his Caprices de Marianne are wonderful ; Herbert Paul 
agrees with me. The fellow who acted Fritz in La 
Grande Duchesse made me cry. I suppose I was the 
only person in the house who did." 

His last words to M were these : 

[' Tell your father my English is getting better since 
I gave up associating only with the brutal sex, and took 
to ladies.'] 

[After a later lesson. ED.] . . . 

[He had been unhappy about politics.] 

Ichabod is written on my front. If they carry Home 
Rule, I shall go and live at Zurich." . . . 

[Sometimes we discussed the novel of the day.] 

" Plato should have written novels like George Eliot's. 
I am delighted with Beggars All. I think it better, 



TABLE TALK OF WILLIAM CORY 331 

for a first work, than the Scenes of Clerical Life. The 
writer is not an English girl; I found that out for 
myself. 

[In a fit of enthusiasm for Tolstoy, we presented 
Mr. Cory with La Giterre et la Paix, but he was not 
enthusiastic except about the story of the peasant and 
his little dog. Andre, he said, is a stately person.] 

..." I am myself a Dumasser of the first class. Have 
you ever read Ascanio ? I propose to found a Dumas 
Society for printing thirty of his best works properly, 
without pages left out and wrong spelling. I cannot 
read Les deux Diane. Now and then he is horribly 
bloodthirsty; there's one unforgivable passage. I can- 
not understand Stevenson's preference for Bragelonne. 
If ever we meet, I should like to have it out with him. 
Poor dear fellow ! he knows no Greek. How I should 
like to teach him ! I recommend the Henry iv. series. 
Henry iv. is like David plenty of faults, but you can't 
help loving them. You see that every one that came 
near them did. Dumas' Memoirs are wonderful stuff." 

* I should like to read them.' 

["There's no reason you should."] 

[Some one spoke of the glorious sunsets there were 
a few years ago.] 

Thirty-seven thousand people destroyed ! Rather a 
high price to pay for a firework. It 's a nightmare to 
think that some day the earth will be too full for the 
number of people on it. ... 

The first poets I cared about were Campbell (not 
Scott) Byron Euripides." 

[It grieved us that he cared not at all about Browning, 
though without knowing the author he had copied 
into his manuscript book 



332 NOTES OF THE 

* Oh, the little more, and how much it is, 
And the little less, and what worlds away ! ' l 

For Swinburne's Bothwell he professed great admira- 
tion.] 

" The King's Tragedy, The White Ship, are natural 
and wholesome. My audacious friend, Furnivall, took 
me to see him in '59. Rossetti was in his prime 
then. . . . That 's a very sad Sonnet in Christina's last 
volume ; I suppose she alludes to him." 

[He was very much astonished to find that I had never 
read the Vita Nuova. Even more astonished was Mr. 
Cory to find that I had never read Bacon's Wisdom of 
the Ancients. But this was nothing to his bewilderment 
when I told him that I knew nothing whatever about 
the battle of Fontenoy. He could not speak for some 
minutes ; then he said : 

' It was a great shock to me your saying that.'] 

Nov. 28, 1889. 

It was freezing cold at Hampstead a wind that 
pierced like daggers; but, though it took my breath 
away, so that once or twice I could hardly get on up the 
hill, the pain in my hands called up such a keen, live 
spirit of resistance, that I almost enjoyed it. Mr. Cory 
made me sit in an arm-chair on one side of the fire he sat 
in an arm-chair on the other and we read The Cyclops 
in Love. The lilies and poppies were all the lovelier 
for the snow on the ground. We talked about Evelina. 

' Rather milk and water morality, isn't it ? My grand- 
mother liked it but there I think my grandmother was 
hopelessly mistaken. She was young when it came out ; 

1 This particular verse seems to be a favourite with the classically 
minded. I have heard Tennyson quote it and Mr. Bridges. 



TABLE TALK OF WILLIAM CORY 

that makes all the difference. ... I love Cowper . . . 
I was brought up on him ; my mother used to make me 
learn him by heart . . . My mother and my grand- 
mother loved him. I never heard of Milton. I read all 
the Edinburghs and Quarterlies through.' 

Dec. 5. 

I went into the sitting-room to warm myself at once 
this morning. . . . 

He told me curious things about the books they liked 
in the Middle Ages. 

' They liked their history and theology at second hand 
in a portable shape in sandwiches, so to speak. 
They didn't read Livy; they read Valerius Maximus. 
Bradshaw told me, he had never seen the catalogue of 
a Mediaeval Library that had not got Valerius Maximus 
in it.' 

Dec. 6. 

I translated eap op on era Nv%ia 9 Nucheia looking at the 
Spring. 

6 No! it means with the spring in her eyes. .It's the most 
beautiful thing you can say of any one. I very seldom 
see eyes. I did last night. I saw Spring in the eyes of 
my wife the eldest of my four daughters, as she is gener- 
ally supposed to be ! 1 We went to a penny concert.' 

March 14, 1890. 

I had not gone to Hampstead for some time, and on 
the last occasion we had fought, because I prefer Shelley 
to Keats. 

' An ounce of Coleridge is worth a pound of Shelley. 
Keats haunts one.' 

1 The three Miss Grahams were there. 



334 NOTES OF THE 

' Shelley haunts me,' I said. 

6 What haunts you? 1 

I mentioned something on the spur of the moment I 
forget what. 

6 Oh, the short things?' 

'No,' I said boldly, 'bits of Prometheus haunt me 
too 

' ' My soul is an enchanted boat " 

for instance.' 

' The Shelley Society have asked me to write a paper 
on Shelley's scholarship. I shall expose their idol. I am 
like Balaam the other way round ; they call me in to 
bless, and I shall curse. People should read Johnson's 
lives of the Poets; that's the antidote for a love of 
Shelley.' 

When I went back yesterday, he told me that he had 
finished his paper, and had given it to Mr. Furnivall, the 
night before. Mr. Furnivall said it was more sympathetic 
than he expected, and asked leave to send it to a lady 
at Meran (as I understood) who edits a magazine and 
is always asking him for copy. 

' She doesn't pay of course. I told him, if he wanted it 
for a London magazine, I should have to dress it up a 
little. I took great pains with it. Shelley was not a 
scholar at all. He was a schoolboy broken off. He 
shows it by his choice of the Symposium, which is easy 
for Plato and then he makes a mistake a schoolboy 
would not have made about the meaning of TTOTC. He 
picks up things here and there. ' Weave the song ' was 
an expression he got from the use of vcftaivco. Out of 
deference to you I looked out 

My soul is an enchanted boat. 



TABLE TALK OF WILLIAM CORY 335 

' Do you remember the second line ? ' 

4 No.' 

My soul is an enchanted boat, 
Which, like a sleeping swan. 

6 1 can^t stand a thing like that/ 

June 5. 

'Was that you wiping your shoes? 1 said Mr. Cory. 
' Very virtuous of you ! I thought it was an attack on 
the house. 1 

He laughed merrily when he found that I had 
brought him a Hermes, sent by Mrs. Wayte, and a 
box of ginger. 

' Hm ! there 's some intellect in that face. Looks as 
if he were going to beat the child. Very much obliged 
for the ginger; it will be acceptable when Andrew 
comes home. My mother used to eat ginger in church. 1 

Sept. 17. 

The Sage sent me a message: 'Tell Miss Coleridge 
that I Ve been reading Da?ite, and that I think he 's a 
cobbler beside Virgil. 1 

I felt sorry when he moved from Canon Place to the 
little house in Pilgrim Lane. The drawing-room, though 
very pretty, was darker. We were not so gay as we 
were up on the hill. I missed the familiar pictures on 
their own walls the little maid going to bathe for the 
first time and hesitating, half frightened, half resolute, 
on the steps of the machine Iris Mary of Orange as 
a child Diana the water colour of a girl, her hat 
thrown off, sitting pensively before an organ. 

May 26, 1892. 

A post-card came : ' I am too ill for " The Birds. 11 Bad 
Job. 1 



336 TABLE TALK OF WILLIAM CORY 

Last week we were reading with him as usual, and 
hurried off to catch the train. I wish now we had 
missed it. He promised to show me some great passage 
in Thierry (I think it was). I thought I would remind 
him of it next time. 

June 1. 

I saw him for the last time. He spoke to me about 
his own people. 

' My father was ten years older than my mother. He 
let her fall out of his arms when she was a baby. Pick- 
ing her up, he said, 'Never mind, darling! I'll marry 
you some day.' And he kept his word, returning to her 
after ten years of India. In the meantime she had been 
wooed by a lover who used to ride over to present her 
with the quartos of Scott's poems, as they came out. 1 

He was deeply interested in a new History of Persia, 
and in Cadwallader Bates' History of Northumberland, 
and made Mrs. Cory show them both to me. His face 
was altered. He looked ill. 

' He is much better to-day,' Mrs. Cory said, when I 
went in. 

' No,' he said quickly, ' I don't expect to be much 
better.' 

He died at 1 a.m. on the 12th June. 



MARY COLERIDGE 

THE hour had come ; you could no longer stay, 
Swiftest and brightest Spirit of our day ! 
E'en now we saw and touched thee ; vanished quite, 
A cloud received thee, hidden from our sight. 

Here, in this garden, you were oft-times seen, 
These forest paths, and in these meadows green ; 
You loved the beauty of our cheerful Kent, 
Yet the grey North land gave your soul content. 
That dim, pathetic, soft-illumined sky, 
The sun vague-gleaming through uncertainty. 
No tone too definite, no outline clear, 
All symbolised your spirit-atmosphere ; 
And none, like you, with magical command, 
Evoked the Genius of Northumberland, 
Save one keen poet, ' into buoyant order 
Reining his rhymes,"* along the northern border. 

The London streets, their colour and their throng, 

Did to the mirror of your mind belong, 

And there you learnt, as in no other place, 

The woes, joys, passions, of your suffering race, 

And to your poorer sisters gave a part 

Of your wide knowledge and your generous heart. 

Light was your touch upon the shadowy earth ; 
You loved it well, yet knew it little worth ; 
Each mood you loved that changing nature brings, 
And yet, and yet you loved diviner things. 



338 MARY COLERIDGE 

Many there be who may not live again, 

Because they lose their souls and live in vain ; 

But those earn life more rich than that of men 

Who their one talent multiply to ten ; 

And, if the Christian teaching we receive, 

We '11 you in fair companionship believe, 

Where radiant Angels, strong, and clear, and free, 

As their fit compeer gladly welcome thee ; 

Those brighter saints, who, by the finest change, 

Transmuted passion to a nobler range, 

In whom, on earth, ripened the heavenly seed, 

Because, contemplative, they loved indeed, 

And, above all, the Mary, who adored 

That wondrous guest, her brother's friend, the Lord ; 

Heart near akin to thine, she chose to give 

Her very life, not only means to live. 

True as the steel that to the magnet flies, 
Tender as sunset light in August skies, 
Fine as the edge of a Damascus blade, 
Strong as a man, and gentle as a maid, 
So was your verse, and, Mary, so were you. 
Farewell, dear Spirit, tender, strong, and true ! 
If, in a lovelier world, we meet again, 
Joyful will be the awaking out of pain. 

BERNARD HOLLAND. 



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at the Edinburgh University Press 






PR Coleridge, Mary Elizabeth 
600$ Gathered leaves from the 

03A6 prose of Mary Coleridge 
1910 



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